GREEKTOWN — Sen. Dick Durbin is throwing his weight behind Paul Vallas in the Chicago mayors race.
One of Illinois’ most prominent and powerful politicians, Durbin was first elected to the Senate in 1996. He also serves as the Senate Majority Whip, the body’s second highest ranking position.
Vallas, a former Chicago Public Schools CEO, is facing off against Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Vallas came in first of nine candidates in the Feb. 28 election, receiving 33 percent of the vote. Johnson followed with about 22 percent.
Durbin announced his support for Vallas in Greektown Sunday, where he called the candidate a “lifelong Democrat.”
Vallas has been repeatedly attacked in recent months for ties to conservative views and the Republican Party. In a 2009 interview, Vallas described himself as “more of a Republican than Democrat.”
Vallas has reiterated throughout the campaign that he is a Democrat, citing his many political runs as a member of the Democratic Party.
“Paul Vallas is a lifelong Democrat whom I have worked with for many years. He is a thoughtful leader who can strengthen Chicago’s economy and create jobs. He will be a mayor for all of Chicago and will move the city forward,” Durbin said in a news release.
Durbin’s announcement is the latest big name endorsement for Vallas as the mayor’s race enters its final days.
Vallas’ other supporters include former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, retired Rep. Bobby Rush, former mayoral candidates Willie Wilson and Ja’Mal Green and a group of West and South side alderpeople.
Johnson has recently been backed by former mayoral candidate Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson and various progressive alderpeople. Popular Chicago rock band Wilco also announced its support for Johnson over the weekend.
Vallas and Johnson will meet 6 p.m. Tuesday at CBS Chicago for their final televised debate before the April 4 election.
See Block Club’s full roundup of mayoral endorsements here. Early voting is currently underway.
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