CHICAGO — The field to replace the scandal-plagued former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District got smaller Sunday, as state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) dropped out of the race.
In a statement, Hutchinson said she would be throwing her support behind Robin Kelly, a former state representative and state treasurer candidate who was chief administrative officer of Cook County before quitting to run for the seat.
"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. I am simply unwilling to risk playing a role going forward that could result in dividing our community at time when we need unity more than ever."
The 2nd District race has increasingly focused on gun control, and Kelly received big campaign contributions thanks to her tough anti-gun stance. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, already has poured nearly $1.4 million into the campaign with ads attacking Debbie Halvorson, of Crete. Before she dropped out, Kelly criticized Hutchinson for her favorable rating with the National Rifle Association.
Kelly has secured endorsements from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle as well as U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Danny Davis (D-Chicago) and Bobby Rush (D-Chicago). In all of the endorsements, Kelly supporters have slammed former congresswoman Halvorson for her "conservative" stance on gun control, and Hutchinson added her voice to the growing chorus Sunday.
"In the wake of horrendous gun related crimes all across our country, I agree with Robin that we need to stand together to fight gun violence, but Debbie Halvorson been wrong headed in her refusal to moderate her views on banning dangerous assault weapons," Hutchinson said in a statement.
The Democratic primary for Jackson's empty seat is slated for Feb. 26.
Jackson and his wife, former 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson, are expected to plead guilty to charges leveled against them by federal prosecutors Friday.