Former Illinois congressman, candidate for Iowa’s 2nd District seat Bobby Schilling dies from cancer at 57

Bobby Schilling, a former Illinois Congressman and Republican contender for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, died Tuesday from complications related to cancer, according to a tweet from his son. He was 57.

“Today my dad lost his battle with cancer. He was larger than life and lived his life for God and others,” Terry Schilling wrote.

The Press-Citizen first reported on Schilling’s diagnosis in May 2020, amid his campaign for the Republican nomination in a contested primary with now-U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

“I went in for a checkup with my doctor. They noticed some irregularities and performed some tests. Today, we got the results we were told to expect: cancer,” he said in a statement at the time.

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Born in Rock Island, Schilling opened Saint Giuseppe’s Heavenly Pizza in Moline in 1996. He was part of the GOP surge during the 2010 midterm elections, unseating U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, the incumbent Democrat representing Illinois’ 17th Congressional District, by a nearly 10% margin. In 2012, however, he lost the seat to U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat who still holds that seat.

In 2016, he bought some land in LeClaire, Iowa, and announced his bid for Iowa’s 2nd District seat in 2019.

Bobby Schilling speaks with supporters during the Johnson County Republicans dinner at Brown Deer Golf Course in Coralville on October 11, 2019.

Miller-Meeks took to Twitter Tuesday night to remember Schilling as a “devoted family man, a person of deep faith, and a true patriot.”

“When we ran against each other last year in the Republican primary in Iowa’s Second Congressional District, Bobby proved himself to be a hard-working, focused and worthy opponent,” she wrote. “His love for his wife and children shined through in all his conversations.”

Zachary Oren Smith writes about government, growth and development for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Reach him at zsmith@press-citizen.com, at 319 -339-7354 or on Twitter via @ZacharyOS.