New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s departure from the 2020 Democratic presidential race on Wednesday sets the stage for a Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders showdown in the remaining March primary contests, including Illinois’ on March 17.
The Chicago Sun-Times has learned Sanders could hold a rally in Chicago as early as Saturday. The campaign is aiming to book a venue with room for thousands of supporters.
Sanders will rally backers in Rockford on March 10 at the Coronado Performing Arts Center. Sanders, who narrowly lost the 2016 Democratic primary in Illinois to Hillary Clinton, has a strong base in the state. In March 2019 — at a very early event for his presidential bid — he drew more than 10,000 to a rally at Navy Pier. He also visited the city to back the Chicago Teachers Union during their strike.
Biden hits Chicago on March 13 for a mid-day fundraiser and likely other campaign events. Hosts include John Atkinson, who was a major Pete Buttigieg fundraiser until the ex- South Bend Mayor folded his bid on Sunday.
Biden vaulted from underdog to frontrunner in a stunning comeback starting with his South Carolina landslide on Saturday. In the Super Tuesday voting, Biden won nine states, Sanders three with two states results still being counted. Biden will hold a delegate lead after Tuesday. Whether Elizabeth Warren remains in the contest remains to be seen.
Sanders picked up personal endorsements from the top two leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union, President Jesse Sharkey and Vice President Stacy Davis Gates.
In a statement released by the Sanders campaign, Sharkey said that “not only will Bernie fight for our students and their families, but he reflects the core values and mission of our union.”
The union in early February declined to endorse Sanders, with its 700-member governing body first voting down a resolution to endorse the Vermont senator before electing to stay neutral in the race.
A CTU spokesman said at the time that members were split in their support for Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Sanders rallied with the CTU in the weeks leading up to their eventual 11-day strike last fall, and Warren joined a CTU picket line during the October walkout.
Biden on Wednesday picked up the endorsements of Democratic Reps. Mike Quigley, Robin Kelly and Bill Foster.
Earlier, Sen. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill., became the seventh senator to back Biden. Reps. Brad Schneider and Danny Davis have endorsed Biden. Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, D-Ill., has been campaigning for Biden as a surrogate in earlier voting states.
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., was backing Bloomberg. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is a Warren supporter.
Contributing: Nader Issa