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Mayor Lightfoot, Sen. Durbin endorse Biden for president: This election, ‘is the most consequential of my lifetime’

Lightfoot and Durbin were joined by Jill Biden and U.S. Reps. Robin Kelly, Mike Quigley, Danny Davis, Brad Schneider and Bill Foster.

With Jill Biden at their side, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin endorsed Joe Biden for president on Friday, joining a growing list of Illinois elected officials siding with the former vice president over Bernie Sanders in advance of the March 17 Illinois primary.

“This election, I think, is the most consequential of my lifetime,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot and Durbin, D-Ill., announced their Democratic primary pick at the Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson Blvd. They were joined by Illinois House Democrats who earlier endorsed Biden: Robin Kelly, Mike Quigley, Danny Davis, Brad Schneider and Bill Foster.

“I know Joe Biden will make Chicago a partner and not an adversary,” Lightfoot said, alluding to President Donald Trump’s years-long attacks on Chicago. She added that Biden is the candidate who could build “coalitions” and unite people from “small towns in Ohio to big cities like Chicago.”

Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times afterward that if needed, she would travel to nearby Midwest battleground states to stump for Biden. The Michigan primary is Tuesday and Lightfoot, a University of Michigan alum, taped a video for Biden aimed at Michiganders.

The nation, Durbin said, needs a president “will who lead our nation in the tradition of the best leaders of both political parties. Joe Biden is that man and will be that president.”

Lightfoot didn’t give a direct answer when asked about voters’ and the embrace of democratic socialism by Sen. Sanders, a Vermont independent, at a news conference where she underscored her own progressive credentials.

In January, the Sun-Times reported Lightfoot said she had not heard from Biden and Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the senators from Vermont and Massachusetts, and would not endorse a candidate who had not reached out. After that report, the Biden and Lightfoot political teams connected.

Lightfoot finalized her decision on Wednesday after Biden’s decisive South Carolina and Super Tuesday wins, according to her political chief, David Mellett. Lightfoot talked with Biden on Thursday. Since Jill Biden was going to be in the Chicago area on Friday, the former vice president made sure his wife connected with the Illinois officials to be present at the endorsement.

Jill Biden recounted how she was in Chicago’s Grant Park on election night in 2008, where Barack Obama and Joe Biden celebrated their victory.

Earlier Friday she headlined a fundraiser in the morning in Glencoe yielding about $100,000. She told the group the Biden campaign is working on programs about “engaging the youth vote and coming up with some youth advocacy. Because you know Bernie is claiming that he has the youth vote, but guess what, they did not get out and vote for him. So, but, that does not mean that they don’t have great ideas, you know, and Joe has to be a big part of all it, they are voters too. So, we are going to address them, that’s going to be the next thing with our campaign.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., endorsed Biden earlier this week. Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker has said he won’t endorse in the Democratic primary — but on Friday he said both Biden and Sanders haven’t even asked him for his support.

”Neither one has called me to ask for my endorsement,” Pritzker said at an unrelated press conference in Bensenville. However, a source told the Sun-Times the Biden team did reach out to Pritzker’s political operation.

The only Illinois congressional endorsement Sanders has is from Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., Freshman Rep. Sean Casten is with Biden; the other freshman, Rep. Lauren Underwood is staying out the presidential fray as is Rep. Dan Lipinski and so far, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi. Rep. Bobby Rush backed ex- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who dropped out; Rep. Jan Schakowsky supported Warren who also folded her bid.

Sanders is in Chicago on Saturday for a rally starting at 1:30 p.m. at the bandshell in Grant Park. Joe Biden is in Chicago on March 13 for several fundraisers and likely a public event.

Pritzker sorry to see Warren bow out

Also, Friday Pritzker said he’s “sorry” to see Warren end her presidential campaign. Pritzker and his wife were major donors and fundraisers for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid.

“As somebody who put his all into helping the first woman nominee of a major party to win the presidency, and someone who believes that it’s important that women take their place in leadership roles in our nation ... I was sorry to see that Sen. Warren is no longer a candidate,” Pritzker said. “And I would say that while we may not end up with a woman president in 2020, it is inevitable that we will have a woman president. And I believe this decade.”

CONTRIBUTING: Tina Sfondeles