To close the loop....Democrat Christine Cegelisendorses 6th CD House Democratic candidate Tammy Duckworth.
Cegelis gives endorsement to Duckworth for Hyde seat
April 3, 2006
BY LYNN SWEET SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Christine Cegelis, who lost a three-way Democratic House primary battle last month, said she endorses the winner, wounded Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth.
"I certainly endorse Tammy over Peter Roskam. I hope for a Demo-cratic win in November, and I wish her all the luck in the world,'' Cegelis said.
Cegelis and I talked Thursday night over the phone about the west suburban 6th Congressional District election to replace Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), whose decision not to run for another term creates a rare open seat.
Earlier in the week, Cegelis had been in Washington for an event with a group that helped her campaign, the Progressive Democrats of America. She joined the advisory board.
Earlier Thursday, I also discussed the race with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who helped recruit Duckworth to run, along with Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chief of the House Democratic political organization, because they were convinced that Cegelis could not beat Roskam.
Party calls for unity
There is some residual ill will from the primary on the part of Cegelis backers, who resented how Duckworth got in the race.
Durbin told me he is working to unify the Democrats in the district. He revealed that there was a point in the race where he warned the Duckworth campaign he thought that Cegelis would win if there was low voter turnout.
I phoned Cegelis to close a loop because she never used the magic word "endorse" in a letter she sent supporters after her March 21 defeat, in which Duckworth narrowly beat her with 44 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Cegelis and 16 percent for Wheaton College professor Lindy Scott.
Cegelis' post-primary letter to her backers wished Duckworth luck. "She's going to need it,'' Cegelis wrote, since the "full force'' of the Republican Party would be helping her November opponent, state Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).
But she never was more explicit and skipped a DuPage County Democrat unity breakfast the Saturday after the election, where a picture of Duckworth with the two rivals she beat could have been worth the proverbial thousand words.
Backers likely to stay in fold
I asked Cegelis if this was a firm endorsement, and she said "yes.''
Duckworth has appealed to Cegelis several times since her defeat and Democrats, including Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Durbin and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) have called her.
Cegelis predicted that most of her backers would stay in the fold.
"Not everybody of course, but I think the majority of them will, because they want a Democratic majority in the House.
"I think the majority of the voters who voted for me want a Democratic majority in the House. A Democratic majority is important right now. The country is going in the wrong direction.''
Cegelis said she is returning to her job at a software company and will be traveling to Florida to tend to her ill mother.
Durbin said, "We did everything we could'' to bring Cegelis to the breakfast. "I know she is probably angry and disappointed with the outcome, but we need her and her supporters and I hope they will support Tammy.''
When low turnout was predicted, Durbin said that was his "fear for weeks. I called the campaign four weeks in and I said, 'have you calculated a low turnout, what might happen here because we know Christine's friends are loyal and they are going to be there and they are going to knock on doors for her.
"And we are new to the district; Dec. 18 is when Tammy announced. So that was my concern. And election night we made it, but the low turnout made it a lot closer.''
A week ago, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Duckworth started hitting Roskam for his opposition to stem cell research.
In the end, Roskam is the opponent, and issues such as stem cell research will dramatize the differences between Duckworth and Roskam, differences that ultimately may serve to unite most Democrats.