During the second debate for the Illinois 18th District special election, establishment GOP candidate Darin LaHood told voters that he would vote “no” on a series of issues that his deep-pocketed donors are pushing hard to get passed. Even after the debate, some of these same donors are funding a $90,000 TV campaign ad pushing his candidacy. This dichotomy leads some voters to question LaHood’s sincerity.
During Monday’s night’s debate, LaHood said he’d push against ethanol subsides, that he wouldn’t support a gas tax hike, that he stood against sugar subsides, and also that he wold vote against other issues, despite the fact that in many cases his donors are pushing hard for just the opposite.
On ethanol subsidies, for instance, in the recent past LaHood has called for a fairly specific five to ten year phase out of subsidies. But perhaps the big dollars he has taken from Monsanto and the Illinois Corn Growers Association have already started to soften his stance as during the debate he admitted only to a general interest in phasing out subsidies and did not reiterate his previous, more specific 5 to 10 year phase out plan.
LaHood also called for an end to “corporate welfare,” yet he is the recipient of $5,000 from Boeing, a company that not only supports the Export-Import Bank but practically lives off tax breaks, government subsides and contracts — exactly what’s described as “corporate welfare.”
Finally, LaHood also claimed that he would oppose any hike in the gasoline tax in order to fund infrastructure and internal improvements.
Not only does this put him at odds with his own father, former Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, but it also puts him at odds with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which is for the gas tax hike but still gave LaHood thousands and has prominently endorsed him for Congress.
On top of its initial support, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce just funded a $90,000 TV ad blitz claiming that LaHood “Advocates for improving our broken infrastructure system.”
The Chamber, of course, is a big supporter of a gas tax hike and their ideas on how to fund “infrastructure” is no where near what LaHood claimed he supports during Monday’s debate.
So, the question remains, how likely is it that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would support a candidate to the tune of over one hundred thousand dollars even though that candidate has claimed in public that he would vote against the very issues they deem important?
Are the lobbying groups and establishment Republicans who are funding LaHaood really giving thousands of their political dollars to a candidate they know would vote against their interests, or do they really know something that the voters don’t?
The primary to replace disgraced establishment Republican Rep. Aaron Schock in the Illinois 18th District special election is set for July 7 and the general is September 10. Schock resigned earlier this year due to an avalanche of charges of financial irregularities.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter: @warnerthuston. Email the author at email@example.com.