CHICAGO (WLS) --In a rare move, President Barack Obama endorsed Democratic state House candidate Juliana Stratton in her primary bid to unseat a fellow Democrat, state Rep. Ken Dunkin.
Obama recorded radio and television ads endorsing Stratton, saying she will "stand up for our children, our seniors and our working families." He also says in the ads that "Juliana will fight to get guns of our streets and fight for tougher penalties for violent offenders, I'm Barack Obama. I'm asking you to vote for Democrat Juliana Stratton for state rep."
The ads were announced Monday and Stratton said it was a welcome surprise.
"I think he believes it's important that residents get new leadership and leadership they can believe in," Stratton said.
President Obama has inserted himself in one of the nastiest and toughest battles in the state. Stratton is backed by unions and just about every prominent Illinois Democrat. Dunkin, who has drawn the ire of Democratic leadership for voting against them, has received big campaign contributions from allies of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Dunkin's votes against party lines has disrupted House Speaker Michael Madigan's veto-proof majority.
Dunkin believes Madigan is behind allegations that were leveled on Sunday. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) accused him of buying votes.
"Mike Madigan will tell elected officials to do whatever he thinks he can do to derail an independent voice for a man standing up in his district," Dunkin said Sunday.
Dunkin is so proud of his independence that he stood up to cheer for President Obama during his recent Springfield speech when Obama spoke about compromise with republicans. Obama told Dunkin to "sit down" during a speech to Illinois lawmakers earlier this year when Obama said voting with the other party didn't make someone a sell-out. Dunkin had stood and applauded.
On Monday, Dunkin declined to comment when asked about the Obama endorsement.