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Secretary of State hopeful Giannoulias endorsed by teachers union, former Rep. Gutierrez

The Illinois Federation of Teachers represents over 100,000 teachers and support staff across the state’s public school districts, community colleges and universities — as well as about 200 members who work in the Secretary of State’s office.

Democratic secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias speaks to striking Cook County workers in June.
Democratic secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias speaks to striking Cook County workers in June.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias on Monday picked up more support for his bid to succeed Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, bagging the endorsements of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez.

The union represents over 100,000 teachers and support staff across the state’s public school districts, community colleges and universities — as well as about 200 members who work in the library, archives or security divisions of the Secretary of State’s office.

Dan Montgomery, the president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, said in a statement Giannoulias “understands the importance of a strong public education system, spanning from pre-K to higher education, and is committed to supporting Illinois educators.”

“The office of the Secretary of State oversees libraries and how young people learn to drive,” Montgomery said. “These are critical issues of importance to our membership. Our public schools, families and educators need elected officials like Alexi who share our goals and offer bold, innovative ideas to ensure that our students come first.”

Along with the union’s Monday endorsement, Giannoulias’ campaign plans to formally roll out the support of Gutierrez in a video.

Reached in Puerto Rico Monday, the former Democratic congressman called Gianoulias the “best move forward” for the state. The two have a “long, extensive friendship,” Gutierrez said, one that includes helping secure benefits and severance pay during the 2008 sit-in of a Chicago window and door factory by laid-off workers.

Former Rep. Luis Gutierrez speaks at a news conference earlier this year.
Former Rep. Luis Gutierrez speaks at a news conference earlier this year.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

The former congressman said he plans to return to the area in March and stay until November to campaign for Giannoulias, a role that will be determined by the former treasurer’s camp.

“I’m with him for very positive reasons,” Gutierrez said. “He has held statewide mantle before, and he will understand what levers need to be pulled to get things done. I cannot think of a more important time to have someone who understands state government [in that office] and who has shown a commitment to working people.”

The teachers’ union and Gutierrez join a growing list of backers for the former treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate.

Giannoulias’ endorsements include U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, two local chapters of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and the Service Employees International Union Illinois State Council, which functions as that labor organization’s political arm.

The state council represents the union’s 150,000 workers scattered across its various branches — 2,600 of them working at secretary of state facilities.

The labor organization includes SEIU Local 1 and SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana. SEIU Local 1 and SEIU Healthcare have an ownership stake in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Ald. David Moore (17th), left, in June of 2020; Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), center, in 2019; City Clerk Anna M. Valencia, right, in 2018. 
Ald. David Moore (17th), left, in June of 2020; Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), center, in 2019; City Clerk Anna M. Valencia, right, in 2018.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia; Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

Other Democrats vying to succeed White include Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Ald. David Moore (17th).

Republican state Rep. Dan Brady, of Bloomington, and broadcaster William Kelly are currently the only members of their party vying for the chance to run the office.