CHICAGO — One of Illinois’ most popular elected officials, Secretary of State Jesse White, is retiring at the end of his term. He’s leaving without an anointed successor opening the door for political rising stars.
Although the primary is a still more a year away, ambitious Democrats are lining up to replace retiring Secretary of State Jesse White.
A battle is now brewing for top endorsements and campaign contributions. On Monday morning, Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia held an in-person campaign kickoff.
“I declared that we are running for Illinois Secretary of State and we had our painters endorsement, District Council 14 here in Chicago and 58 Council from Southern Illinois, where my dad is a proud union painting member,” Valencia said.
Valencia said she’s running to overhaul old Secretary of State infrastructure, expand voting access and modernize libraries throughout the state.
“I would be the first woman, the first Latina, and the first mom to ever be Secretary of the State,” said Valencia.
Valencia has big-name party donors helping to fill her coffers, including former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama Tina Tchin and Democratic Party activist Bettylu Saltzman.
Valencia’s event came less than 24 hours after Alexi Giannoulias, a lawyer and former Illinois Treasurer, scored an endorsement from Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Giannoulias starts the race with a guaranteed flow of money and volunteers thanks to the backing of the Service Employees International Union Illinois State Council.
“We need leaders who are going to run for office, who are going to stand up and fight for this state, fight for this country, fight for this democracy,” said Giannoulias.
Also in the hunt – a pair of Chicago aldermen. David Moore, of the 17th Ward, wants to create a youth engagement office at every Illinois Secretary of State center.
Moore said he believe his decades of campaign experience will help propel him to the top of the field.
“It’s a servant seat. To me it’s a non-partisan set just like I am as aldermen,” Moore said. “I’m doing the work sometimes you don’t see the worker bees, you just see the work that they do when it’s all over.”
Pat Dowell, of the 3rd Ward, is looking to prioritize cyber security as more and more people use online Secretary of State services. She’s already throwing an elbow at some of her rivals.
“I’m a true public servant who is not looking to use this office as a stepping stone to a bigger office,” she said. “This is the office that is closest to the people in the state of Illinois, it’s like a large aldermanic office and people deserve services.”
Majority caucus whip Michael Hastings, of Tinley Park, also announced a run.
So far no Republicans have entered the primary. A bill awaiting the governor’s signature would moves the primary to June 28 next year.