We have an interesting political race going on here in western Illinois, pitting long-time farm broadcaster Colleen Callahan (D) against a local political boy-wonder, Aaron Schock (R). The pair are running for the U.S. Congressional seat from District 18, which loosely catches the Peoria area.
Schock is younger than I am, but began his political career early, getting himself first on the ballot (a feat in itself) and then actually elected to the Peoria school board when he was barely out of high school. Then it was on to the Illinois statehouse as a representative, and now, a run for Congress.
Colleen has deep agricultural roots in the Peoria area, and she’s built a 30-some-year career telling agriculture’s story as a Peoria farm broadcaster. She’s well-known all over central Illinois, and beyond. She’d be an excellent voice for agriculture in Washington, but she may be facing an uphill battle. Schock has a lot of political name recognition, and has been in the local news for years now.
Colleen’s name has floated around Illinois politics in the past as a potential director of agriculture – an office appointed by the governor. Should Illinois Senator Barack Obama make it to the White House, could we see her on a short list for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture? Colleen says she’s flattered, but her focus right now is on becoming her district’s next congresswoman.
Cabinet positions are a long way down the road, and we’re still 60 days out from the election. But anything’s possible…he is from Illinois, and she is widely respected in and out of Illinois agriculture. Given her ability and desire to communicate agriculture, it’s hard to imagine Obama finding anyone better suited to the position.