EUREKA — U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood will be challenged in November by a Eureka College history professor.
Junius Rodriguez was chosen by a group of Democratic county party chairmen last weekend to run against the first-term Republican in the 18th Congressional District.
“It’s important to have a candidate in every spot that we can fill,” said Woodford County Democratic Party chairman Bradford Shepley, who was at the meeting where Rodriguez was selected.
Peoria County Democratic Party chairman Billy Halstead said that Rodriguez would campaign hard for the position, and will be able to articulate “the views and values of the Democratic Party.”
The 18th District has sent Republicans to Congress for more than a half-century, though in recent years there has always been a contested general election race for the seat that takes in territory from Quincy along the Mississippi River to Cropsey northeast of Bloomington.
Major population centers include portions of Peoria, Springfield and Bloomington-Normal.
Though Rodriguez did not seek nomination in his party’s primary, his selection was part of an accepted process political parties use to fill vacancies on the ballot. He will have to submit an equivalent number of signatures on nominating petitions to what he would have required to get on the primary ballot as part of the process.
Chris Kaergard is the Journal Star political reporter. He can be reached at 686-3255 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.