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Rep. Jan Schakowsky endorses Alexi Giannoulias’ Democratic primary bid for Illinois Secretary of State

Giannoulias said picking up the backing of Schakowsky, a progressive leader in Illinois with a strong political network, is “a game-changer” heading into the June primary.

Former Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who’s now seeking the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.
Former Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is now seeking the Democratic nomination for Illinois secretary of state.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times file photo

WASHINGTON — Alexi Giannoulias, in a four-way Democratic primary for secretary of state, picked up the endorsement of Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., on Wednesday, the second member of the House delegation to support his bid.

Giannoulias, a former state treasurer, told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview picking up the backing of Schakowsky, a progressive leader in Illinois with a strong political network, is “a game-changer” heading into the June primary.

Earlier, Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., and former Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., announced endorsements for Giannoulias.

Giannoulias and City Clerk Anna Valencia are the front-runners in the contest to replace Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who is retiring. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., endorsed Valencia in February.

Schakowsky cited the push Democrats are making to protect voting rights — under attack from Republicans in state legislatures in this post-Trump era — as among the reasons she is endorsing Giannoulias.

“This election is critically important as Republican Secretaries of States across the country are implementing extreme right-wing policies that amount to the worst voter suppression effort since Jim Crow,” Schakowsky said in a statement.

“These underhanded tactics are solely aimed at suppressing the vote, particularly among voters of color, and restricting access to the ballot box.

“Even in Illinois, partisan legislation has been proposed to create barriers designed to keep people from exercising their right to vote. As Secretary of State, I trust Alexi to advocate to protect these fundamental rights and make it easier for people to register and cast ballots,” she said.

To her point, even though there is no documented widespread voting fraud in Illinois — where Democrats control the governorship and Illinois General Assembly and every other statewide office — in October, the Illinois Republican Party Chairman, Don Tracy created the “ILGOP Election Integrity Committee,” which is, according to a party press release, “dedicated to giving voters confidence in their elections by making it easy to vote and hard to cheat in Illinois.”

In so doing, Tracy was taking a cue from states controlled by Republicans following the Trump playbook of raising doubts about election outcomes without credible, documented evidence of a problem.

Former President Donald Trump’s election denial claims, and his push for states to tighten voting laws to make it harder to vote may likely have an impact on the 2022 elections and beyond.

The Illinois secretary of state runs the state motor voter program, where people can register to vote at the same time they are applying for or renewing a driver’s license.

Giannoulias said if he was secretary of state in Illinois, he would push to “provide more registration opportunities.”

In a low dollar fundraising appeal emailed Tuesday, Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) another secretary of state candidate, said, “The stakes are too high to let the MAGA Republicans wrestle away control of our state’s top election authority.”

Ald. David Moore (17th) is the fourth candidate in the Democratic primary.