WASHINGTON – Illinois secretary of state candidate Anna Valencia picked up the backing of Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., who on Friday made her first statewide endorsement in a contested Democratic primary.
Unveiling the Underwood endorsement signals Valencia, who last month said she was “exploring” a bid to replace Secretary of State Jesse White, is all but officially jumping into the contest. She has already assembled a consulting team for her 2022 campaign.
White, who is retiring, was first elected secretary of state in 1998 and will have served 24 years when his final term ends.
Former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is doing “listening tours” around the state in advance of a formal primary announcement. Others are contemplating joining the race.
Valencia, the Chicago city clerk since 2017, supported Underwood, now a two-term lawmaker, when she first ran in the crowded 2018 Democratic 14th congressional district primary.
Both Valencia and Underwood have been working to encourage more young women to run for elected office, scouting out talent for the next generation of Democratic party leadership.
In a statement, Underwood said, “Anna Valencia embodies the heart, character and talent of the next generation of leadership in Illinois.
“Anna has dedicated her career to fighting for policies that uplift women and their families. We know that when women are given the opportunities and resources they need to succeed, all of our communities thrive.”
Valencia’s campaign consulting team includes Larry Grisolano, a partner in AKPD Media who is a veteran of ex-President Barack Obama’s campaigns; KJD Strategies for fundraising; Global Strategy Group for polling; and Wildfire Contact for direct mail.
Underwood has been raising money to support other Democrats through her federal political action committee American Mosaic PAC and an Illinois political fund, called Farm Team PAC.
In 2018 and 2020, Underwood backed Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., over now former Rep. Dan Lipinski in the 3rd congressional district Democratic primary. Getting involved in the secretary of state race is Underwood’s first statewide play.
Underwood’s Farm Team PAC said it “recruits, trains, and financially supports candidates” for local offices, such as mayor or village boards in the seven counties that are at least partly in the 14th congressional district: DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties.
Both Valencia and Giannoulias, who lost a 2010 Senate bid to now former Sen. Mark Kirk, are supporters of organized labor.
The Sun-Times earlier reported that Giannoulias had won the backing of Locals No. 881 and 1546 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Valencia has the endorsement of UNITE HERE Local 1.