Updated 12:52 p.m. | After one Democrat abruptly bowed out of the race to succeed Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth late last month, the Democratic field in the 8th District got a little more crowded Tuesday with the entrance of Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkel.
“For the last several years, the people of our communities have been lucky enough to have one of the hardest working common sense voices in Washington,” Bullwinkel said in a release Tuesday morning, referring to Duckworth, who's challenging Sen. Mark S. Kirk.
Bullwinkel told CQ Roll Call Tuesday that she has been in touch with Duckworth, who she said has given her advice about running in the 8th District.
Bullwinkel is making economic issues, particularly as they affect women, a central part of her campaign, and she's prepared to tap "the network of folks" who support women in politics, she told CQ Roll Call, for help fundraising.
"I have been in touch with EMILY’s List, and they are very encouraging," she said.
“We are looking closely at this seat and are excited about the opportunity to keep Illinois’ Eighth District in the hands of a strong pro-choice Democratic woman,” EMILY's List Press Secretary Rachel Thomas said Tuesday afternoon.
Bullwinkel said she has not yet been in contact with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "But they are definitely aware of my jumping into the race," she added.
Bullwinkel is the first woman and the third Democrat to enter the race — a fact she's likely to highlight in her campaign.
"Whether it is fair wages and pay equity, economic opportunity for the middle class, paid family leave, or access to good health care and reproductive rights, extremist Republicans in Congress will fight any positive change," she said in the release. "If you’re a working person, and especially if you’re a woman, the assault never stops. I won’t back down from that fight.”
Aside from being the president of the 22,000-person town of Villa Park, which media consultant Terrie Pickerill explained is the equivalent of mayor, Bullwinkel, 47, also owns a consulting business.
"I really feel like I have a very personal approach to the folks who not only live in Villa Park, but across the 8th Congressional District," Bullwinkel said when explaining how she differs from the other candidates in the race.
Businessman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who lost to Duckworth in the 2012 primary, announced his candidacy March . He leads the fundraising race so far, having raised $621,000 in the 2nd quarter of this year with $596,000 in the bank.
State Sen. Mike Noland, who officially kicked off his campaign earlier this month, raised $65,000 in the 2nd quarter and has $62,000 in cash on hand.
Former state House candidate Jenny Burke has also been mentioned as a potential Democratic recruit to keep Duckworth's seat in female hands.
State Sen. Tm Cullerton's sudden decision to pull out of the race frees up the endorsement of VoteVets and the Teamsters Union, which had originally backed him.
In a district that President Barack Obama carried by double digits in 2008 and 2012, the Democratic primary is likely to decide who next represents it. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race Safe Democrat .