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Illinois House GOP Leader Jim Durkin to back Scott Walker

WASHINGTON — Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, is poised to back 2016 GOP White House hopeful Scott Walker, the Sun-Times has learned.

Durkin is the first major Illinois elected official to back Walker, the Wisconsin governor. All signs point to Durkin becoming the Illinois chairman of the Walker presidential campaign. Durkin’s statewide political organization and network would give Walker a massive advantage in organizing delegate slates for the March 2016 Illinois primary.

As I reported on Tuesday, Walker will be in Chicago and Downers Grove on Thursday collecting political chits.

In Chicago, Walker will headline a major fundraiser at the Peninsula Hotel, 108 E. Superior, to benefit the “Citizens for Durkin” campaign fund, which helps elect Republicans to the Illinois General Assembly.

A source told me: “Gov. Walker and Leader Durkin’s appearance together is a sign of support from the leader for Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign. Announcements regarding Walker’s Illinois state leadership will be coming soon, but his campaign’s already-strong foundation of support in Illinois is growing.”

Walker’s national finance co-chairman, Todd Ricketts, is one of the hosts of the Durkin event. Durkin has known Walker for years, going back to when Walker was a Milwaukee County official.

Walker was last in Chicago on July 27 for a fundraiser for his 2016 presidential campaign, hosted by Mike Morgan, the Illinois Republican who is leading Walker fundraising efforts in Illinois and who was the 2010 campaign chairman for Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

Walker also did fundraisers in Bloomington and Godfrey during that July swing.

Walker’s DuPage event is Thursday morning at Carlucci’s Restaurant, 1801 Butterfield Road, in west suburban Downers Grove, the heart of Republican vote-rich DuPage County.

The price points for the DuPage County Republican Central Committee event rolls from $250 to $5,000.

The price tag for Durkin’s big annual summer reception ranges from $1,000 to $10,000.