TAMPA -- Backing off questions about a possible 2014 run for governor, Republican U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock said Wednesday that winning suburban congressional races is "huge" for the GOP.
Schock, speaking to Illinois delegates to the Republican National Convention at their Clearwater Beach hotel, also rallied the delegates to work to take back the Illinois House and said his party could take some tips on candidate recruitment from Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Nominee Mitt Romney will address the convention, as will Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and others. Entertainment includes Bebe Winans and Choir and Taylor Hicks. Several former U.S. Olympic athletes will appear.
Where to watch:
• Fox News: 9-10:30 p.m.
• MSNBC: 6 p.m. to midnight.
• CNN: Beginning at 3 p.m.
• CSPAN: All day.
• ABC, NBC and CBS: 9-10 p.m.
• Many sources will stream convention events live online all day.
"We need to keep those," Schock said of high-profile congressional races in the suburban 8th, 10th and 11th districts. Schock represents the 18th district.
"When you're the congressman or woman, you're the titular head of your party," he said of U.S. reps. Joe Walsh, Bob Dold and Judy Biggert. "What Republican Congresswoman Judy Biggert has done, what Bob Dold has done, to reinvigorate those Republicans in those parts of the state ... is extremely important for the competitiveness of Republicans statewide."
Walsh, of McHenry, faces Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates in the 8th District, which includes parts of Cook, DuPage and Kane counties. Dold, of Kenilworth, is challenged by Democrat Brad Schneider of Deerfield in the 10th District in Lake and northern Cook counties. Biggert, of Hinsdale, squares off against former U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville in the 11th District in central Will and southern DuPage and Kane counties,
Dold and Biggert will each spend a portion of the week at the convention. Walsh, however, has chosen to stay at home to campaign in the district.
"It's a tight race. If I were Joe Walsh right now, I would be back home campaigning for those votes as well," Schock said.
Schock wouldn't talk about rumored plans for a 2014 bid for governor, saying his focus is "here and now."
While he cut at Democrats for fiscal mismanagement and a tax increase, he noted Madigan has "done a very good job with candidate recruitment. One thing I've learned is if you have all the money in the world and you have a bad horse, you don't win on race day."
He said Illinois House Republicans are six seats shy of gaining a majority in the Illinois House and achieving a long-term goal of wresting power away from Madigan, who has held the position of House speaker for all but two years since 1983.
"Whether I run or someone else runs, (the point) is that we focus on state House and state Senate races so whoever runs has a majority to get things done," Schock said.