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Potential rivals to Rep. Schock: Ever heard of Abe Lincoln?

Rep. AarSchock R-Ill. 2009 FILE PHOTO.  (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., in 2009 FILE PHOTO. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

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Updated: October 1, 2012 6:00PM

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Republican gubernatorial candidates who finished first and second in the 2010 GOP primary each wound up with an election loss that year, but does that weaken them too much to be legitimate contenders again in 2014?

Without naming names, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, himself a possible GOP gubernatorial candidate in two years, suggested that might be the case during an earlier sit-down with the Chicago Sun-Times.

But state Sen. Bill Brady and Sen. Kirk Dillard, who each came up short in 2010, had a far different take Thursday, the final day Illinois delegates met at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

“I’m glad Congressman Schock wasn’t around to advise Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan or, for that matter, Jeb Bush,” said Brady, referring to a lineup of past candidates who made it big after an initial stumble or two.

“Everyone’s got a right to their opinion. But I frankly think my last election gives me great strength to do whatever [wife] Nancy and I choose to do in the future,” said the Bloomington Republican, who lost to Quinn by a mere 31,834 votes out of 3.7 million cast.

Dillard had a similar answer to the idea of an electoral loss making a gubernatorial candidate look weak.

“Well, Congressman Schock, that wouldn’t have allowed Abraham Lincoln to become president of the United States or Jim Edgar ever to become the governor of the state of Illinois. People lose elections for different reasons,” the Hinsdale Republican said.

“Last time, I came within 193 votes of being our nominee, with four people from my county of DuPage running,” he said. “Not always is a loss a bad thing. In fact you learn a lot from it.”

The mini-dustup between some of the possible gubernatorial wannabes came as Illinois’ 350 delegates and their guests started their final day in Tampa hearing a lineup of speakers needle President Barack Obama, tout GOP chances in Illinois’ fall elections and laugh at imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s misfortunes.

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a one-time aide to ex-President George H.W. Bush, spoke glowingly of the day a vanquished Obama is driven from the White House and comes back to Chicago looking for a new home.

“Maybe Tony Rezko can help him again,” Sununu said to laughter, referring to the 2005 land deal between Obama and Rezko that increased the size of Obama’s Kenwood yard — a transaction Obama later characterized as a “mistake.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam painted the Democrats as incredibly vulnerable in Illinois after scandals like that of Blagojevich disgraced the state.

“It’s a complete absurdity that the land of Lincoln, the birthplace of Ronald Reagan, has become a punch-line,” the Wheaton Republican said. “We don’t have to live like this.”

But the best punchline of the day probably came at Blagojevich’s expense.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka told delegates how impressed she was by Mitt Romney’s humanizing disclosure that he irons his own shirts.

“I think it’s neat he can do it because I don’t know how. My mother always told me don’t learn how because you’ll always get stuck doing it,” she said.

Then, state GOP chief Pat Brady chimed in.

“I understand one of the first jobs you get in federal prison is the laundry room. Maybe Rod is ironing shirts today,” Brady said. “You can’t go a whole convention without any Rod Blagojevich jokes now, c’mon.”

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