Updated 11:31 a.m. | State Sen. Darin LaHood, 46, announced Wednesday he will run in the special election to replace disgraced Rep. Aaron Schock, the Illinois Republican dogged by ethics investigations who announced plans Tuesday to resign.
LaHood, who made the announcement on a local radio show, is the son of former Rep. Ray LaHood — the moderate Republican who represented the district from 1995 until 2009. And while Illinois Republican operatives say other candidates could announce for the seat, LaHood looks like the prohibitive favorite.
LaHood will have both the familiar name and fundraising ability to make him a force in what's going to be a short spring to a special election.
After Schock officially steps down on March 31, Gov. Bruce Rauner has five days to schedule an election. Illinois special election rules stipulate the race must be held no longer than 115 days from that call.
And because the 18th District leans heavily Republican, the race will almost certainly be decided in a GOP primary, giving candidates an even shorter time period for their bid.
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district by a 23-point margin in 2012.
Democrats mentioned a handful of names who could run for the district, including state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth; Sonni Choi Williams, deputy corporation counsel for the city of Peoria; Kristin Dicenso, an adviser at the Illinois Department of Transportation; and Colleen Callahan, who lost to Schock in 2008.
But Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., conceded Democrats would have a hard time competing for the seat.
“It is a very tough seat. It was designed to be a very Republican seat," Durbin said Tuesday. "I’m not saying we couldn’t find a good candidate to win, but it would be a challenge.”
Sarah Chacko contributed to this report. Related: Schock Resignation Will Trigger Special Election in Illinois The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.