U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Sunday endorsed Paul Vallas in his bid to become Chicago mayor, giving Vallas a potential boost in the race for the mayor’s top job.
“He is a thoughtful leader who can strengthen Chicago’s economy and create jobs. He will be the mayor of all of Chicago and move the city forward,” Durbin said in a press release. “With his focus on safer neighborhoods, school improvements and economic growth, I am proud to endorse Paul and encourage all Chicagoans to support his election on April 4.”
An endorsement from Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, could help Wallace shore up the support of moderate or liberal voters who are concerned about Wallace’s ties to conservative politicians and donors.
Although Vallas has campaigned as a lifelong Democrat, he has faced questions about his connections with republican activists and donors, as well as the right-wing Fraternal Order of Police. Durbin’s campaign press release repeated the quote “Paul Wallace is a lifelong Democrat” in the first line.
Vallas’s own words caused problems for him as well. In a 2009 interview with Jeff Berkowitz, Vallas said, “I’m more of a Republican now than a Democrat,” a comment that was featured in negative commercials against his April 4 runoff opponent, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson.
Wallace responded that he has a long history of supporting abortion rights, ran for governor in the 2002 Democratic primary against disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and served as governor. Running mate of Pat Quinn in his losing race against Republican Bruce Rauner in 2014.
Wallace also acknowledged that he considered running for Cook County Council as a Republican in 2009. But he said that it is not about the political party. Instead, Vallas said, he wanted to find a foothold to challenge then-Board President Todd Stroger, who came from a powerful Democratic family and whose father, John Stroger, chaired the Cook County Board for 11 years.
Durbin’s endorsement is also worth noting, as recent news has shown how Wallace mocked him and another U.S. senator from Illinois, Tammy Duckworthfor “always” voting for democratic initiatives.
For his part, Johnson recently unveiled plans for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and announced the endorsements of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, all progressive supporters who will help broaden his base.
Sanders was also a proven vote-getter in Chicago, receiving 226,854 votes in the city during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.