Food workers serve up support for Giannoulias in Illinois secretary of state race

Locals 881 and 1546 of the food workers union, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, threw their weight behind Giannoulias and vowed to play a “major role” in electing him secretary of state.

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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias makes his concession speech in 2010.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias makes his concession speech in 2010.

Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias won the backing of two local chapters of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in what’s likely to be a heated race to replace outgoing Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Locals No. 881 and 1546 of the food workers union, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, threw their weight behind Giannoulias and vowed to play a “major role” in electing the former U.S. Senate candidate about 13 months before the March 2022 primary for secretary of state.

“Alexi is a longtime ally of working people and has a proven track record of getting the job done for middle-class families,” said Steve Powell, president of Local 881 and vice president of Illinois AFL-CIO. “During this critical time, Alexi brings an experienced and trusted voice that will strengthen the foundation of our movement. ... Local 881 is poised to play a major role in the 2022 campaign and elect Alexi as Illinois’ next Secretary of State.”

Giannoulias has reported $397,700 in campaign contributions, including donations from Cinespace president Alex Pissios and Michael Sacks, an investor in the group that owns the Chicago Sun-Times.

A spokesman for Giannoulias said Local 881 has donated $57,800, Local 1546 has donated $5,000, and a Washington, D.C.,-based branch of the union has donated $10,000.

In a statement, Giannoulias said he’s “honored and proud to stand with UFCW workers to advance their rights and recover from this crisis stronger than ever.”

“I will continue to serve as a voice for them in Springfield and for all hard-working men and women across our state,” Giannoulias said.

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias toasts Mark Kirk at Billy Goat’s Tavern after the Republican beat him in the U.S. Senate race in 2010.

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias toasts Mark Kirk at Billy Goat’s Tavern after the Republican beat him in the U.S. Senate race in 2010.

Scott Stewart/Sun-Times file

The field seeking the secretary of state position that White has held since 1998 may become a crowded one as the election draws nearer. White has said he won’t seek re-election, though he said that in 2016 before changing his mind.

Last month, Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough said she’s giving a run for the post “great consideration,” and City Clerk Anna Valencia said she’s forming an exploratory committee for a potential run for the position.

The position is one of the most coveted elected offices in Illinois — full of easy publicity, thousands of jobs and the potential to serve as a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion.

White made it clear when he was first elected in 1998 that he had no interest in using the position to run for higher office.

That was significant since the previous two secretaries of state — Republicans George Ryan and Jim Edgar — both used the office as a springboard to successful campaigns for governor. Before Edgar, Democrat Alan Dixon used it to win a U.S. Senate seat.

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