Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will take sides in a Democratic House primary and endorse Tammy Duckworth over rival Raja Krishnamoorthi on Monday during a press conference in Elk Grove Village, several sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Durbin endorsement was expected and is not surprising, as the contest in the newly remapped northwest suburban eighth congressional district heats up. Durbin's move comes as Krishnamoorthi, a business executive and former deputy treasurer and Duckworth head into what may be the marquee Illinois Democratic match-up in the March primary.
Durbin is a long-time political patron of Duckworth, a former Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs, who ran the Illinois state veterans department. Durbin recognized Duckworth's political potential when he met the Iraq war vet in January 2004, while she was recovering from wounds -- she lost her legs and shattered an arm when a missile hit her helicopter in Iraq-- and launched her on her first political campaign--a House bid in 2006 where she was beat by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.).
Krishnamoorthi downplayed the Durbin endorsement. "I respect Senator Durbin, but the economic suffering millions of Americans face today means this election will be decided by the candidate who best demonstrates a depth of experience, passion, and ideas for creating jobs and helping the middle class. I respectfully submit that candidate will be me," he said in a statement.
Durbin's endorsement helps particularly at this stage on the fund-raising front. Krishnamoorthi was in the race months before Duckworth and secured the backing of blue chip Democratic names from the Chicago area, which proved helpful to him in fund-raising.
Illinois Democrats drew the new map to create an eighth district with a Democratic tilt. Illinois Republicans are challenging that map in federal court. Under the current map, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) --of Tea Party fame--represents the eighth district, but he has been contemplating running from another district if a federal judge does not toss out the map.