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Congressman Darin LaHood declares victory in Illinois' 16th District

Congressman Darin LaHood (middle) gives a victory speech flanked by his family Tuesday night at the Lariat Steakhouse in Peoria.
Collin Schopp
GOP Congressman Darin LaHood gives a victory speech flanked by his family Tuesday night at the Lariat Steakhouse in Peoria.

The mood at the LaHood Election Night Return Watch Party at Lariat Steakhouse in Peoria was celebratory Tuesday night. Congressman Darin LaHood easily won in the newly redrawn, conservative 16th District.

“I am committed to continuing to stand up for what people in my district believe in,” he said in a victory speech. “And that's good conservative values.”

With 88% of votes counted, LaHood was ahead of his Democratic opponent Lisa Haderlein by a wide margin — 65.8% to 34.2%.

The speech also laid out a four point Republican plan he called the Commitment to America: “an economy that is strong and robust, a nation that is safe, a future built on freedom and a government that’s accountable.”

LaHood said he was pleased with the results across the country so far and believes Republicans are on track to take back control of the House of Representatives.

“The number one issues that I heard from people, crime, inflation, the border issues, kind of cancel culture and woke-ism. And so I think people responded to that,” he said. “We'll see how many seats we pick up.”

Voters at the event were similarly positive about the results so far and echoed the issues LaHood said were important.

“The national polls have been talking about the economy, inflation, crime,” said voter Virgil Chila. He also believes national conversations about parents’ involvement in school curriculum, especially during the pandemic, also contributed to the night’s results.

“When they got home, they saw what was being taught to them on the internet. When they got upset about that, they went to the school boards, and we're told to go home,” he said. “I believe the swing in today's vote is the young mothers with kids of two and three telling the Democrats they're not happy.”

If Republicans end the midterms with full control of Congress, LaHood hopes to see major strides on issues they made tent poles.

“Gas is too much, energy costs are too much. They don't like the fact that people want to defund police supporting police doing something about the border. I mean, these are I would think are common sense issues,” he said. “And so I would say, we're going to put forth proposals if we take back the House that governs in that way. And I think, working with the Biden administration, I would think they would want to work on these issues.”

However, the issue of a federal abortion ban, championed by GOP members like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, could divide the party’s new power. LaHood said he would support legislation like the one Graham proposed in September.

“I've had a strong record of being pro life. And I'll continue to do that,” he said “And so I think that's, you know, a reasonable bill.”

But LaHood followed up by saying he is a “state’s rights person” and “federal government shouldn’t be dictating policy.”

This election also presents an opportunity for career advancement for LaHood. He’s a member of what he calls one of the best committees in the House: Ways and Means. He said he would champion trade policy for farmers and changes to tax policy if advanced to a leadership position.

“If you go back and look at the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill we passed in 2017, that helped create the greatest economy in my lifetime,” he said.

LaHood also is finance chair for the National Republican Congressional Commission, and has expressed a desire to be made the chairman, but faces competition for the post.

“As finance chair, we raised a record amount of money, the most in the history of the NRCC: $300 million. And so I'm proud of the work that I did,” said LaHood. “And so, you know, we'll see what the final results are here.”

With results still coming in, LaHood wasn’t ready to declare the midterms a “red wave.”

“I haven't looked at all the results because I've been busy here at this party talking to everybody, but we are going to win back the House,” he said. “I'm confident of that.”

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.