U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Dunlap identified China and Russia as the biggest national security challenges facing the nation.
Primary opponent Michael Rebresh of Minooka insists the threat comes from his fellow Americans — “Democrats at the helm” — followed by China.
LaHood and Rebresh are among four candidates on the ballot for the June 28 Republican primary seeking the 16th District seat in Congress.
The others are Walt Peters, a retired executive in the aviation industry from Rockford, and Joanne Guillemette, a career lawyer in government and private practice from Rockford. Shaw Media did not receive information outlying their positions.
The 16th will become an open seat now that U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who has served in Congress since 2011, has withdrawn from the race. The 18th District was eliminated after the 2020 Census and the redistricting process resulted in LaHood’s residence north of Peoria being located in the 16th.
LaHood, who has served the 18th District since 2015 and was an Illinois state senator from 2011 to 2015, is a former state’s attorney and holds a law degree from John Marshall Law School.
LaHood said China is a strategic competitor and presents challenges in the areas of military influence in politics, cybersecurity and economic manipulation.
“America needs to invest in our military, work with like-minded allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific to strengthen our economies and grow American innovation to keep up with the Chinese government’s investments in their military and subsidized state-owned businesses,” LaHood said.
LaHood serves on a Republican task force on China, the bipartisan U.S.-China Working Group and the House Intelligence Committee.
Rebresh is the owner-operator of an over-the-road truck who has a bachelor’s of science degree from Illinois State University. He has never held public office.
His approach to China is to “stop buying their products.” He favors protecting American intellectual property. He also wants the government to seize China real estate in the U.S., sell it and use the proceeds to help small businesses that accepted government Economic Injury Disaster Loans during the pandemic.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report from Dec. 31, 2020, the government’s most recent on foreign holdings of agricultural land, China owns 352,140 acres. That is less than the amount of acreage that Canada — the largest foreign property owner — possesses in Oregon alone.
Rebresh also wants to “sanction the daylights out of China” because, in his words, “released a biological weapon on the world.”
In fact, according to a March 30, 2021 update, the World Health Organization has not determined the source of SARS-COV-2 and remains under a mandate by member states to do so; thus it continues to investigate the Huanan market in Wuhan, China, since it was there the virus was first detected on Dec. 8, 2019. An advisory group released a preliminary report on June 2, 2022, explaining that it continues to investigate all possibilities.
In explaining why Democrats are a threat to national security, Rebresh said “they will destroy everything” in the name of something that can’t be attained.
Russia was the other foreign policy threat identified by LaHood, who appears to favor a continuation of the approach taken by the administration in regard to the invasion of Ukraine. “The United States should continue to provide Ukraine with humanitarian assistance, defensive weapons and share information with our allies,” he said. He added he wants to see the alliance with NATO strengthened.
Immigration is often framed as a national security issue. Both LaHood and Rebresh favor the Trump administration’s Title 42 protections, enacted as a COVID-19 provision to deter asylum seekers at the southern border and are at the center of a legal battle between the Biden administration efforts to lift them and the border states’ insistence they remain in place.
LaHood said he believes strongly in legal immigration, but said the Biden administration’s “open border policies” are the source of crime and the influx of fentanyl. He wants to devote more resources to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Rebresh said: “Fund the wall and deport anyone who doesn’t belong here.”
Guillemette, on her campaign website, said “our government has a moral responsibility to finish the wall.” Peters doesn’t take any foreign policy stances on his website.