PEORIA — The third time Darin LaHood comes before voters seeking the GOP nomination for Congress in the 18th Congressional District, he'll have a familiar name on the ballot opposing him.
Donald Rients, a technical worker at State Farm, unsuccessfully ran against LaHood for the Republican nod in a 2015 special primary election after U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock resigned, and placed third.
The Benson man is seeking the nomination again, arguing that no candidate should be unchallenged on the ballot.
Rients has also indicated disappointment at the speed a Republican-controlled Congress is moving at implementing its agenda given that there is also a Republican White House.
"I see a Republican House and a Republican Senate and a president that will sign some of those Republican bills that are strong bills. If he's going to sign those, why aren't we passing them?" he says, expressing particular frustration about a lack of infrastructure legislation.
Rients also wonders why more action hasn't been taken by those GOP majorities on anti-abortion legislation.
He'd have the federal government be more effective at policing work visa violations for agricultural workers and high-tech workers alike.
In asking voters to nominate him for a second full term, LaHood says he's proud of what Congress accomplished with tax reform at the end of last year.
"It's what I would describe as once-in-a-lifetime tax reform," the Peorian said, noting that after early squabbles on other issues, "I don't think people had a lot of confidence or a lot of faith that the Republican Congress would get it done. We did."
He says, too, that his continued pushes for "more reasonable regulation" have begun to bear fruit under the current administration.
And he'd point to his recent selection as a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee as a sign of his growing ability to influence the debate — not just on issues of taxes or revenue, but also on trade. There, representing communities that rely upon trade for manufacturing and agriculture sales, he notes that his seat is especially important on that topic because he doesn't always agree with a more protectionist Trump administration when he thinks its policies wouldn't benefit the district.
Chris Kaergard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard