Kirk Dillard, Illinois Senator announces endorsement from Illinois Education Association; comments on Rutherford allegations

February 14, 2014 (CHICAGO)

As Republican candidate Kirk Dillard announced a major endorsement Friday morning, he said the Illinois Treasurer's trouble has "sucked some of the air out of the campaign."

"He wants to be Governor like I do and I don't like to see anybody stumble," said Sen. Kirk Dillard, Republican candidate for governor.

Sen. Dillard tried to avoid answering questions about State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, his Republican primary opponent accused of sexual harassment and pressuring an employee to do political work on state time.

"Dan has been a friend of mine for many years. He'll have to work through these questions himself," said Sen. Dillard.

His attorney said Rutherford was served Thursday with a lawsuit filed by former employee Ed Michalowski and for that reason, the treasurer had been instructed not to release findings of an internal investigation into the allegations.

"These statements should be made in court and not out in the public forum," said Peter Andjelkovich, Rutherford's attorney.

"This battle, though its messy and it's not fun to go through sometimes, is going to make our party stronger," said U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno.

Congressman Kinzinger counted Rutherford as a loser in the scandal.

"I think we've seen him lose a few percentage points out there," said U.S. Rep. Kinzinger.

Meanwhile, Dillard was endorsed by the Illinois Education Association, which represents 130,000 suburban and downstate teachers.

"We believe that Senator Dillard believes in what we believe in and that is public education," said Cinda Klickna, IEA president.

The IEA interviewed only Dillard and Rutherford. Senator Bill Brady-- who supported public pension reform-- and businessman Bruce Rauner who has campaigned against "union bosses" were not interviewed.

"The Republican party has one man in this race who demonizes working people and members of organized labor. We should not do that," said Dillard.

As Dillard spoke, the Rauner campaign released a statement criticizing Dillard's acceptance of union support, calling the Hinsdale senator "an insider" and "part of the problem" in Springfield.

Historically, the Illinois Education Association has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates it endorses for governor.

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