NEWS

Hirner slams Schock's 'celebrity status'

CHRIS WETTERICH

SPRINGFIELD -- Deidre “DK” Hirner, the Democratic opponent of U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, in the 18th Congressional District, took aim Thursday at Schock’s celebrity and rising status in the Republican Party.

“I’m not interested in being a media star, nor am I interested in being a rising political figure in my party,” Hirner told members of The (Springfield) State Journal-Register’s editorial board on Thursday. “Aaron is a young man in a hurry. I don’t see how that translates to serving the people in the district.”

Hirner, who until last year was executive director of the Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group, where she represented member companies on state environmental regulations, worked for two Missouri governors before arriving in Springfield in 2005.

Schock, who was elected to the Peoria School Board while still a teenager and later served in the Illinois House, has appeared in issues of GQ, Details and The New York Times style section since being elected to Congress in 2008 to replace Rep. Ray LaHood. Washingtonian magazine just named him the No. 1 male “hottie” in Congress.

Hirner criticized Schock for arriving at some events in the district in a helicopter.

“That’s not how people live,” she said. “He has focused on himself, on his own media and marketability rather than focusing on the needs of the people who he was elected to represent.”

Schock’s campaign did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Hirner said a lot of the discussion around President Barack Obama’s health care was “hyperbole” and said she favors much of the health care bill, particularly provisions that bar children who have pre-existing conditions from being denied health insurance and prevent insurers from dropping people when they get sick.

She also favors Obama’s plan to extend the Bush tax only for families making under $250,000 and individuals making under $200,000 and would vote for more government spending to create jobs.

While many believe government should have to balance its budget just like a household, they also should consider that everyday people take on debt themselves to buy homes and cars, she said.

“That’s a deficit,” Hirner said.

Schock voted against Obama’s stimulus plan, wants all of the Bush tax cuts extended and wants to repeal the health care reform law Congress passed late last year.

Chris Wetterich can be reached at 788-1523.