CHICAGO | Two Democratic Illinois congressmen have endorsed Robin Kelly in the race to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush and Danny Davis appeared Sunday at a news conference with Kelly.
Rush said Kelly is a woman of integrity and conviction, while Davis said Kelly has the pragmatism needed to get results in Washington.
Kelly is a former state representative and one-time aide to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Other candidates in the running include former Congressman Debbie Halvorson, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson and Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale. The 2nd Congressional District spans several neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side, south suburbs and some rural areas. It's Democratic-leaning territory.
Late last week, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart threw his support behind Beale. Prior to the announcement Sunday by Rush and Davis, Dart had been the highest-profile public official in the Chicago area to endorse a candidate since Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced late last month she was backing Hutchinson in the Feb. 26 primary.
What makes endorsements from the likes of Rush, Davis, Dart and Preckwinkle potentially important is that the race is wide open, particularly since Democratic Party officials were unable to slate one of the nearly two dozen candidates who filed petitions to run. And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez do not plan to endorse a candidate, according to their offices.
Kelly also recently announced in a news release that a group of more than 100 ministers, the International Ministers & Community Alliance, is supporting her candidacy. For Kelly, the endorsement is significant; not only is the clergy a powerful political force, particularly in Chicago, but the endorsement follows what was a blow to Kelly's candidacy — when Preckwinkle decided to endorse Hutchinson.
Kelly also picked up the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune in Sunday's edition.
The special general election is April 9.
Jackson resigned in November, citing health problems and acknowledging that he's under federal investigation, reportedly for misusing campaign money.