Republican state Sen. Darin LaHood, a politician from north central Illinois, won his party’s primary on Tuesday in the special election race to succeed disgraced former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, according to the Associated Press. LaHood, should he win, will take over an office in Washington that was once painted and decorated in the style of the hit television show "Downton Abbey."
LaHood can now look to a September special election where he is favored to win against his Democratic challenger, high school teacher Robert Mellon. Schock resigned earlier this year amid questions that he had misused campaign and taxpayer money as a congressman.
Washington reporters began looking into Schock’s spending after a stroke of what can only be described as really bad luck. Ben Terris, a Washington Post Style reporter with a focus on national politics, wandered into Schock’s D.C. office one day, curious by the sight of an office that, instead of sporting beige walls like many others in the Rayburn House Office Building, had red walls with “gold-colored wall sconces with black candles. [And a] Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top.” Terris received a panicked call from Schock’s communications director as he talked to the decorator for the office. The communications director told him to delete the photos he had taken. He later offered Terris the opportunity to ask Schock anything he wanted, as long as he didn’t write the decoration story. Terris wrote the story.
Reporters began digging, and records indicating that Schock had overbilled the federal government for travel expenses and had spent lavishly on campaign meals and expenses were uncovered.
Less than half a day after Politico reported on “tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements [Schock] received for his personal vehicle,” the congressman abruptly resigned.
In the primary battle, LaHood sought to portray himself as more conservative than his father, former Rep. Ray LaHood. Darin LaHood secured a key endorsement for the GOP primary from the National Rifle Association.