METAMORA — Aaron Schock, R-IL, 18th Congressional district representative, set the bar during the Woodford County Lincoln-Reagan Republican dinner for a reboot of the Illinois Republican party, calling for Republicans to start believing in their ability to affect legislative change.
“(Former president) Abraham Lincoln said little during his (addresses to the nation),” Schock said. “So I too have decided to forgo the two and a half hour speech tonight.”
However, Schock’s speech covered a lot of ground in the approximately 45 minutes he allotted himself. Topics ranged from getting the state out of debt to Illinois’ education system, and a variety of national rankings showing the current feeble state of the state.
One of these rankings included Illinois’ credit rating, which the Chicago Tribune cited as worst in the nation in a Jan. 25 article. “Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service downgraded Illinois in what is the latest fallout over the $96.8 billion debt to five state pension systems,” the article stated.
“The time has come for us to tell democrats, ‘Lead or get out of the way,’” Schock said.
He said he felt confident that Republicans could fix Illinois’ problems if given the opportunity. Schock said Reagan made many moves as president that people considered impossible at the time but succeeded in many of them.
“When people used to tell Ronald Reagan that what he wanted to do would be impossible, he would say, ‘Well, I guess I’m too stupid to know it won’t work,’” he said. “So, let’s try it anyway.’”
Schock made no indication at the dinner whether he would run for governor. When asked by the Woodford Times, he said that he was not ready to make a decision but knew that time was closing in on him.
“I guess I’ll have to decide in a couple of months,” he said.
Other notable guests at the dinner included every district representative of Woodford County: Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, of the 37th district, Josh Harms, R-Watseka, of the 106th district, Jason Barickman, R-Streator, of the 105th district and David Leitch, R-Peoria, of the 73rd district.
LaHood gave an introductory speech for Schock before he came up to address the Woodford County Republican supporters. He joked that Schock’s political aspirations did not quite reach as far as running for president.
“My son asked me, ‘Dad, who’s going to be speaking at the dinner?’” LaHood said. “I said, ‘Congressman Schock.’ So then he asked, ‘Is he still thinking of running for president.’ “I said, ‘No, not quite.’ So I just wanted to let you know Congressman that you have a supporter at the national level.”
Schock became the youngest ever school board president in history at age 23. He is currently 31 years old and represents Illinois’ 18th congressional district. Woodford County residents from Metamora, Germantown Hills and Eureka came to show their support of the Republican Party as well as the former presidents Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s 204th birthday occurred Feb. 12 and Ronald Reagan’s 101st birthday was Feb. 6.
The dinner took place at the Metamora Fields at 801 Progress St. Of an available 344 dinner tickets, 328 were sold. Other highlights of the dinner included a gun raffle and silent auction. Christy Casey, project coordinator, emphasized the importance of the Constitution’s second amendment.
“As an American citizen, I believe in the right to bear arms,” she said.
A Ronald Reagan museum is housed in the Cerf Center of Eureka College with visitation hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. The Metamora Courthouse State Historic Site also celebrated Lincoln’s birthday the night of Feb. 11 at 113 E. Partridge St. The event included music, dancing and refreshments.