Putting human faces on our Congressional candidates


Between now and Sept. 10, when the special election for the 18th Congressional seat will be decided, candidates Darin LaHood and Rob Mellon will be campaigning throughout the 19 downstate counties.

In the low-turnout July 7 primary, LaHood won with 69 percent of the Republican vote, and Mellon won with 61 percent of Democratic ballots.

There’s more to Mellon and LaHood than packaged images, of course, so I had them respond to a baker’s dozen questions to help people appreciate the human beings behind any practiced, poll-driven, focus-group-vetted likenesses conjured by consultants or other spin doctors.

What was your best day in higher education?

Darin LaHood: Without a doubt, my law school graduation day.

Rob Mellon: Graduating from Quincy University with my history degree (Dr. Costigan and Father Aaron had to be proud).

If you won a lottery and could buy any truck or car, what would be your “dream vehicle”?

DL: I think it’d be great to have a Jeep to cruise around in.

RM: “Smokey and the Bandit”-style mid-’70s black Trans Am with the gold firebird across the hood.

What was your favorite cartoon character from childhood?

DL: I loved the Road Runner.

RM: Captain America, of course — he’s an Army officer!

What location do you enjoy going to, or traveling past, for a sense of serenity?

DL: We hike the Bluff Trail in Peoria’s Robinson Park, and I love the scenery and family time.

RM: Down on the riverfront walking between the Bayview and Memorial Bridges in Quincy. The river defines our city’s history and when I’m on the riverfront I feel the most connected to that history

Who’s your favorite author?

DL: David McCullough. He combines my love of history, politics and leadership into some really great reads.

RM: John Grisham.

What’s your most annoying piece of clothing?

DL: I’m not a big fan of suits, especially wool suits, but they go with the territory.

RM: I have this old Army gray Physical Training shirt that’s almost totally worn through, but it’s my “golden boy” (re: “Seinfeld”). It’s the most comfortable shirt on the planet.

How do you like your eggs?

DL: Over easy, or an omelet.

RM: Scambled eggs with toast.

What was your worst haircut ever?

DL: I had a bowl cut once. I’m pretty sure there are no pictures, and that’s a good thing.

RM: My first haircut I received courtesy of Uncle Sam at Army basic training. I went from a long, flowing mullet to no hair in less than 60 seconds.

What’s a “guilty pleasure” movie or TV show?

DL: I like movies, and my “guilty pleasures” are “Goodfellas” and “Fletch” – if I’m ever flipping through channels and they’re on I’ll usually watch.

RM: “Game of Thrones” – if doesn’t seem like it now, but winter is coming.

What are your “comfort shoes”?

DL: When you’re running for office, tennis shoes are work shoes. For comfort, it’s sandals all the way for me.

RM: My brown shoes I wear to school every day suit me best – they are the most worn-in.

What’s your favorite spectator sport?

DL: Basketball. I played through college and I coach my sons – it’s a great game and I love to play as much as I love to watch. My three boys are also soccer players and fans, so I enjoy watching them play in matches or watching with them, too.

RM: The National Pastime – baseball.

Who’s your most-respected Founding Father?

DL: Ben Franklin. He was both a visionary and practical, a diplomat and a revolutionary. He was funny, passionate about independence, and a classic example of someone who used his abilities to create a life, make a difference, and leave a lasting legacy.

RM: I love the political/philosophical struggles between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, but I would have to say I most respect “His Excellency George Washington, Commander in Chief Continental Army” (what a title).

What music do you listen to when no one’s around to complain or roll their eyes?

DL: My wife Kristen and my three sons are a bit more contemporary, so I earn a few eye rolls, but I like the classic rock singer-songwriters. There are a bunch, but Van Morrison is a favorite when I’m listening alone.

RM: Elvis music gets a roll of my daughter’s eyes every time, especially when I sing “Kentucky Rain.”

Bill Knight

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