Toni Preckwinkle endorses Toi Hutchinson for Congress

January 28, 2013 4:20:34 PM PST
There was a new twist Monday in the race to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress.

Four weeks and a day before the Special Democratic Primary, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle endorsed a candidate.

However, the announcement by the powerful party leader has done little to cull the herd of candidates running for the Second Congressional District seat.

After what she called a nine-week-long "struggle", Preckwinkle decided to endorse south suburban State Senator Toi Hutchinson.

"I had a difficult decison to make. I made it. I'm supporting Toi because I think she's the best and strongest candidate," Preckwinkle said.

Hutchinson was excited about the high-profile endorsement.

"It means so very much to me. I know that you've given a tremendous thought to this decision. You went through a process and I am so very grateful for your support," Hutchinson said.

Former County Chief Administrator Robin Kelly said she was disappointed that Preckwinkle, her former boss, endorsed another candidate.

Kelly, a former state representative, noted her endorsements by former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and President Barack Obama's close friends Cheryl and Dr. Eric Whitaker.

Internal polls suggest that former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson is leading the race. Preckwinkle acknowledged the polls and called Halvorson "too conservative".

"In just one term, Halvorson managed to vote against President Obama's agenda on 88 separate occasions," Preckwinkle said.

Halvorson is not worried.

"I'm finding out that endorsements by party leaders really don't have the effect that they used to," Halvorson said.

State Senator Napoleon Harris said the only endorsements that matter will be made by thousands of voters on February 26th.

"At the end of the day, the people are going to make the decision and the people are going to choose the candidate they feel can move the district forward," Harris said.