Illinois’s two senators — two of the most high-profile elected officials in the state — endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker on Friday morning, the latest in a series of endorsements for the billionaire philanthropist and entrepreneur.
Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin stood with Pritzker to endorse him at Lincoln’s Park’s Theater on the Lake. The supporters at the venue on the Lake Michigan shore included a contingent from labor unions backing Pritzker.
The senators said their decision to endorse came after multiple meetings with Pritzker that left them impressed with his job and education plans.
“From Chicago to Cairo, J.B. has been listening and talking about how best to address the challenges facing our communities every day,” Duckworth said. “He has fought for our state and our families and now it’s time for us to fight for him.”
The move deals a blow to candidates Chris Kennedy and State Sen. Daniel Biss, who are the other top fundraisers for the March primary. Tio Hardiman, former director of the anti-violence program CeaseFire, Bob Daiber, Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools, Robert Marshall and Terry Getz, a corrections officer, are also running.
The endorsements cap off a tough week for Pritzker. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner accused Pritzker of “hiding from taxes” and of hiding money in off-shore holdings. Pritzker once again called the accusations “laughable,” and said that the trusts were created when he was a child and are distributed to charity, not to him.
“We need a governor who will put behind us the tragedy of that budget crisis that hurt us all across this state,” Durbin said. “We need to stand together in this campaign.”
In his speech, Pritzker continued to rail against Rauner — mocking Rauner’s comment earlier this week that he doesn’t control the state.
“As candidates, as elected officials, of all the things we owe you, the most important thing is acknowledgement of our responsibility to you,” Prizker said. “If I’m elected, when it comes time to pass a budget I will work with every elected official in Springfield and all the concerned citizens and social service agencies that make this state run.”