Contentious Illinois House Race Draws President Obama's Attention

Mar 7, 2016

President Barack Obama called for civility in politics during a speech in Springfield in February; he called out Rep. Ken Dunkin during it.
Credit Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

A candidate for the Illinois House has gotten help from an unlikely, high-level political figure.

With the race for the White House and control of the U.S. Senate on the line (not to mention leading the free world) President Barack Obama surely has plenty on his mind this election cycle. Evidently, that includes a contentious, and expensive, primary race for the Illinois House.

He's voiced an ad, asking voters to support Juliana Stratton.

"Thirty years ago I came to Chicago to help strengthen our community. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that follow through is everything," he says in the campaign commercial. "The people of Chicago deserve leaders who follow through. Juliana Stratton has spent her career serving our community."

Stratton is director of the Center for Public Safety and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She's challenging State Rep. Ken Dunkin for the Democratic nomination.

The race is largely seen as a proxy war between House Speaker Michael Madigan, who's supporting Stratton, and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose allies are supporting Dunkin.

Dunkin angered members of his party by siding with Rauner on several close votes.

It's not the first time Obama's given attention to this Illinois political feud; the President chastised Dunkin during a speech in Springfield last month.

In a tweet Monday morning, Republican Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon wrote "So @BarackObama is now making endorsements in a Primary for State Rep? Looks like #POTUS is playing #smallball."