Only a week after a visit to Washington for his first time as a candidate in Illinois’ open 8th District, state Sen. Tom Cullerton said he has changed his mind and decided to drop his bid.
In a statement released early Thursday morning, the Democrat from DuPage County said he would instead run for re-election to the state Senate.
“With every elected office that I have sought, my guiding compass has been to ask myself a single question. What is the best way for me to serve the hard working men and women in my community?” he said in a statement. “I have determined that the best way to serve is to continue to represent the 23rd district as a state Senator.”
A source close to Cullerton said his decision is a “surprised everybody.” After his trip to Washington last week, he was running hard: His campaign had scheduled a fundraiser with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a signal of growing support from Illinois Democrats.
“Going out to D.C. made it really real,” an aide said.
Cullerton’s exit means that groups such as VoteVets and the Teamsters Union that had endorsed him are now uncommitted in a Democratic primary that could decide who replaces Rep. Tammy Duckworth, the Democrat who is running for Senate against Republican incumbent Mark S. Kirk.
At first glance, Cullerton’s exit appears to benefit businessman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who comes to the table with his own financial resources to propel his campaign. In a statement, Krishnamoorthi praised Cullerton’s work in the state legislature and pledged to work with him if he is elected to Congress.
"I thank Senator Tom Cullerton for his continued service to the community and wish him and his family only the best,” he said in a statement.
In addition to Krishnamoorthi, state Sen. Mike Noland is also running for the seat.
With Cullerton out, some in the district think EMILY’s List, which had been sitting on the sidelines, might try to recruit a Democratic woman to maintain Duckworth’s seat. Two possible candidates could be Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkel or former state House candidate Jenny M. Burke, a Democratic operative said.
The 8th District race is rated Safe Democrat by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.