CHICAGO — State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympic Fields) declared herself a candidate to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, as Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) insisted he'd be the victor in the race to the Feb. 26 Democratic Primary.
Robin Kelly, of Matteson, a former state representative and state treasurer candidate who is now chief administrative officer of Cook County, said she'll formally declare her candidacy in the race on Sunday.
"I have officially announced my plan to run for Congress," Hutchinson tweeted Thursday. "We need a Rep who understands our concerns, I look forward to earning your support."
Hutchinson's official statement said she would work for families on the South Side and south suburbs to increase jobs and improve economic development — the same themes Beale emphasized Thursday.
"I'm the only candidate in this race that has created thousands of jobs," Beale said, referring to his mediation of a compromise between labor and Walmart when the big-box store came to Chicago.
"Right now, I'm the only alderman in the City of Chicago in the race," he added. "I think building on that base and with the relationships I have in the south suburban area, we have a path to victory."
Jackson's 2nd Congressional District stretches from the South Side through the south suburbs and Will County to Kankakee County, and the special election to replace him after he resigned last week figures to be a cavalry charge.
Former U.S. Reps. Debbie Halvorson of Crete and Mel Reynolds of Dolton are in the race as well, and Chicago attorney Sam Adam Jr. has said he'll decide whether or not to join in after defending Cook County Commissioner William Beavers (D-Chicago) in his federal corruption trial, which starts next week. South Side "Rooftop Pastor" Corey Brooks is also in the mix.
All of which makes a possible Democratic endorsement by Cook County ward and township committeemen more important, Beale said Thursday. As the 9th Ward committeeman, he's the only candidate so far with an actual vote in that process. Ten other committeemen with area in the 2nd District will work with Beale to settle on a single endorsed candidate before the primary.
"Slating is going to be very difficult, because everybody has their candidate," Beale said. "By having so many people in the race, it's going to be difficult for any one person to get 50 [percent] plus one."
The instant financing and campaign support the party would offer an endorsed candidate could swing a tight race. Beale, like every other candidate, is working to attract funding for a campaign blitz.
"We're passing the hat," he said. "We definitely will raise enough funds to be successful."