Ill. State Sen. Hutchinson Drops Out of Race for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Seat

The move comes just nine days before the Feb. 26 election

Sunday, Feb 17, 2013  |  Updated 9:39 AM CDT
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Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson dropped out of the contest to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress Sunday and threw her support behind former Rep. Robin Kelly.

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State Sen. Toi Hutchinson dropped out of the contest to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress Sunday and threw her support behind former Rep. Robin Kelly.

The move comes just nine days before the Feb. 26 election and intends to advance Kelly in the 2nd District Special Democratic election race after the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's political action committee reportedly spent nearly $2 million on ads for Kelly.

"I have said from day one that this campaign is not about me or any one person; it’s about moving America forward and standing with President Obama to create new jobs and safer communities," Hutchinson said in a statement. "Robin is a friend, and has captured momentum in pulling our community together."

Hutchinson's announcement comes in light of a recent news report detailing Hutchinson's alleged payments to her mother as a campaign consultant. 

Joyce Washington, Democratic candidate for Congress in the 2nd, said the campaign payments bear too many similarities to former scandals from Illinois politicians.

“We hear the same tired, stale explanations from Ms. Hutchinson that we heard from the other professional politicians,” Corey Dabney, Washington's campaign manager, said in a statement. “’It’s all perfectly legal,’ they say. Isn’t that what they all say?”

After a funding scandal brought down Jesse Jackson Jr., Washington said Illinois voters are ready for a change.

"The only way to break the never-ending cycle of scandals and to bring honest and integrity back to government is to elect a reformer, an outsider, and someone from outside the corrupt system," Washington said in a statement.

Hutchinson was also in the line of fire along with former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson for past support from the National Rifle Association after Chicago became a center figure in the debate on gun control.

"While Senator Hutchinson and I haven’t agreed on everything, we have a strong mutual respect, share a passion for public service and dedication to the people in Chicago and the Southland," Kelly said in a statement. "In Congress, I will work with Senator Hutchinson, President Preckwinkle and other leaders throughout our district to get guns off our streets and bring jobs to our neighborhoods.”

Kelly announced via Twitter that she'd raised more than $200,000 from 500-plus individual donors.
 
Other supporters of Kelly hope to work hard against gun violence and applaud Hutchinson's move.
 
“This election is too important for our party to remain divided," Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said in a statement. "I’m thrilled that Senator Hutchinson has joined me today in supporting Robin Kelly’s campaign for Congress. I applaud her for doing what is best for the Democratic Party today and joining the Kelly campaign so Robin can go to Washington to work with me and President Obama for common sense gun safety laws.”
 
Hutchinson's move also puts supporter Cook County Board Preisdent Toni Preckwinkle behind Kelly.
 
"I’m proud of Toi for agreeing to put voters before her own ambitions," Prekwinkle said. "Robin is a strong leader and will thrive in Congress. I wish her all the luck in the world and I know we will work closely together on issues of mutual importance to our Southland constituents.”
 
Of the now 21 candidates, five are Republican: Lenny McAllister, Beverly Reid, Paul McKinley, James H. Taylor Sr., and Eric Wallace.
 
A complete list of the candidates is posted on the State Board of Elections web site.
 
A special primary will be held on February 26 and the general election is scheduled for April 9.

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