SPRINGFIELD — Bloomington businessman Ed Brady said Monday he is no longer considering a bid for a vacant seat in Congress that may be filled by a Sept. 10 special election.
In a statement sent to media outlets in the 18th Congressional District, the Republican instead says he's backing state Sen. Darin LaHood, a Dunlap lawmaker who was the first to announce his plans to seek the seat formerly held by Aaron Schock.
Brady, the brother of state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said the timing of the special election wasn't right for his family and business interests.
"I am humbled by the support that people have expressed and offered for my potential candidacy. I have no doubt that I could have waged a competitive primary campaign and offered the voters a choice," Brady said.
Brady's announcement comes as LaHood has raised more than $210,000 after launching his bid for the seat two weeks ago when Schock stepped down from the seat he's held for eight years.
Schock, a Peoria Republican, left office amid questions about lavish spending on his office and travel. A federal probe of the 33-year-old former lawmaker is underway.
The dates for the special election are not yet set. But, state and federal officials have asked a judge to set a July 7 primary and a Sept. 10 general election. The general election would be on a Thursday, three days after the Labor Day weekend.
The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking an agreement with the state to make sure there is enough time for county clerks to send ballots to overseas military personnel.
No Democrats have stepped forward to run in the Republican leaning, 19-county district that stretches from the Mississippi River to McLean County and includes all or parts of Peoria, Bloomington-Normal and Springfield.
One potential Democratic contender, state Sen. John Sullivan of Rushville, issued a statement Friday taking himself out of the running.
"I very much appreciate all of the encouragement of family, friends and supporters as I explored a potential run," Sullivan said.
LaHood's path to capturing the seat once held by his father, Ray, is not without some roadblocks.
Bloomington attorney Mark Zalcman says he's running for the seat.
Separately, a group of McLean County conservative Republicans announced they are setting up a political action committee designed to produce a conservative alternative to LaHood.
The Grassroots Speak PAC is being led by McLean County Board member Mark Johnson.
A third candidate also has emerged. Donald Rients of Benson describes himself as a "Christian conservative," who favors term limits and balanced budgets.
In his statement, Brady said LaHood is the best choice.
“I respect a great deal the sacrifice and service our men and women in Congress give to our country. Most of them are doing it for the right reasons. I believe Darin LaHood is doing it for the right reasons. I have listened to Darin and believe him to be sincere and compassionate about his conservative values," Brady said
The next step for potential candidates will be circulating nominating petitions. The Republican candidates must collect signatures from 1,014 voters within the district. Democrats must collect 626 to qualify for the ballot.