Government

Republican in 2nd Congressional Republican primary has cancer

Bobby Schilling says he had surgery, will return to campaigning

Bobby Schilling greets supporters at a 2014 event in Rock Island, Ill. Schilling, a Republican, moved to Iowa and is a c
Bobby Schilling greets supporters at a 2014 event in Rock Island, Ill. Schilling, a Republican, moved to Iowa and is a candidate in the June 2 GO{ primary in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. He said this week he is having surgery for cancer but expects being back campaigning. The primary is June 2. (Quad-City Times)

Bobby Schilling of LeClaire, a Republican candidate in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District primary, has announced he has been diagnosed with cancer and plans to return to the campaign trail after undergoing surgery.

“As my family and supporters know, I’m a fighter,” Schilling, 56, said in statement. “I’ve been through many challenges in my life, and to be frank, this will be my biggest challenge yet.

“But I know, with my wife, 10 children and 13 grandkids behind me, I will be able to overcome this setback. I couldn’t be more prepared.”

Schilling, a businessman, represented Illinois’ 17th District in Congress from 2011 to 2013. He lost his bid for a second term to U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, in the 2012 general election.

Without providing any details about the cancer or the surgery, Schilling’s son, Terry, said his father has “the strength and support to fight through it.”

“He’s the bravest guy I know. The toughest guy I know,” the younger Schilling said during an online announcement Thursday evening.

The candidate will be “focusing on family for next couple of weeks, focusing on recovering from the surgery,” Terry Schilling said. “He’s not giving up on this run.”

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He thanked State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa, Schilling’s chief competitor in the race, for her prayers.

Later Thursday evening, however, Terry Schilling posted on Twitter: “Heartless and disgusting, Your voicemail was disingenuous and I hope you can justify this to God when you meet him.”

He instructed the campaign “to take down all of our negative ads attacking her,” but later said the campaign hasn’t run any television ads. It has run Facebook ads.

However, he challenged Miller-Meeks to take down her negative ads while his father is “in a weakened state (and) can’t even answer back.”

The Miller-Meeks campaign is not planning to alter its campaign strategy.

“We are very sorry for Mr. Schilling’s circumstances and wish him a speedy recovery,” spokesman Eric Woolson said. “His campaign has been underfunded throughout the primary and, frankly, I am unaware that it has either the plans or ability to air any television ads during the primary, let alone the capacity to challenge Rita Hart in the general election.”

Terry Schilling, who will take over the campaign, said his father’s supporters have an “awesome opportunity to send a message to the establishment, to the Republican Party of Iowa, to everyone that politics is about people. The people are in charge. We choose our candidate. They can’t come in and coronate someone.”

Schilling challenged Bustos in the 2014 general election and lost by nearly 22,000 votes. He moved to Iowa in 2017.

The other Republicans in the June 2 primary are Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Tim Borchardt, Steven Everly and Ricky Lee Phillips.

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The winner will face former state Sen. Rita Hart, a Clinton County Democrat who was the lieutenant governor candidate in the 2018 election won by Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg.

The winner of the November general election will succeed U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, 67, of Iowa City, who is retiring after 18 years in Congress.

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