WASHINGTON–Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said Tuesday he will back Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary, the first Republican to make a public statement in support of the Chicago billionaire business mogul who is a close friend of President Barack Obama.
As I reported here Monday, Kirk will help introduce Pritzker at her Thursday confirmation hearing, joining Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in a traditional role for home state senators.
Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) also announced his support, with the senator, who has a labor following, making his backing public while UNITE HERE Local 1, the hotel workers union, started a drive to urge senators to vote against Pritzker because of long-running union disputes with Hyatt Hotels, the chain controlled by the Pritzker family.
Kirk said in a statement, “I support Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary and will introduce her alongside Senator Durbin at Thursday’s confirmation hearing. I believe that, based on her extensive experience in business, she will put jobs and economic growth first. I met with Ms. Pritzker and found her to be someone who is willing to take on special interests, and I am confident her successful private-sector record and close ties to the business community will be beneficial to all of Illinois.”