WASHINGTON--John Atkinson, who had been exploring a Democratic House bid from a Chicago area district, suspended his campaign on Tuesday, faced with the prospects of tough primaries in either of the two districts he was considering running from.
"I believe that it is in the best interest of my community and the state for me to suspend my exploratory campaign and support Bill Foster in his effort to become my Congressman in the new 11th Congressional District," Atkinson said in a statement. (Full statement at the click.)
"In his words and in his actions, John Atkinson put his principles and his love of country ahead of political considerations, traits that would make him a great public servant. I am very proud and humbled to have his support. I share John's concerns about job creation and the direction of our nation, particularly Republican efforts to end Medicare as we know it and balance the budget on the backs of Illinois seniors . There is a right way and a wrong way to get our financial house in order, and I look forward to a vigorous debate about these issues with people like John Atkinson at my side," said Bill Foster.
Former Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) declared his candidacy in the new 11th district, drawn by Democratic mapmakers in Springfield to be heavily tilted for a Democrat. Atkinson got into the race at first intending to challenge Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), but Lipinski's dad, Bill, a former House member and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan made sure Atkinson's house was not in the Lipinski district. Atkinson then started mulling a run from the 11th--designed to be an open seat--but Foster got in and quickly tried to nudge Atkinson out of the race. Foster commissioned a poll that showed him with an enormous running start over Atkinson.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has yet to sign the map, which will be challenged in court by Illinois Republicans. A fund-raiser to bankroll the GOP legal challenge will take place Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club here.
A STATEMENT FROM JOHN ATKINSON
REGARDING HIS EXPLORATORY CAMPAIGN FOR CONGRESS
CHICAGO, IL - Today John Atkinson of Burr Ridge, IL contacted his friends and supporters with a statement about his Exploratory Campaign for Congress.
Atkinson said, "I have been honored and humbled by the outpouring of support Bonnie and I received as we explored a run for Congress. After giving the matter careful consideration, I believe that it is in the best interest of my community and the state for me to suspend my exploratory campaign and support Bill Foster in his effort to become my Congressman in the new 11th Congressional District. Bill Foster has taken courageous votes in support of issues important to me and to the United States. While I do not agree with him 100% of the time, I think it's more important for me to support a candidate like Bill Foster than to run against him just because I want to serve. That's not what this is about. I choose to support Bill, and I will do whatever I can to help him win this election. I remain deeply troubled by the direction of our economy, our state and our country, and I will continue to look for opportunities to fight for an agenda that gets Illinois back to work and our country back on track."