One of the state’s U.S. senators is now backing a candidate in the Democratic race in the 12th congressional district.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, on Friday endorsed St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly in the Democratic race in the 12th.
In her endorsement, Duckworth, an Army veteran who lost both of her legs while serving in Iraq, touted Kelly as a veteran, his work as the county’s top prosecutor and his efforts to combat the opioid crisis and work to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable.
“I just think the people in the 12th are hurting and need someone who will be their champion, and I think Brendan is the best suited candidate who is going to be able to win this,” Duckworth said in a phone call with the BND. “He’s got the right background.”
Earlier this year Duckworth said she intended to refrain from weighing in on the primary campaigns.
However in recent weeks, Kelly showed an ability to fundraise in just his first quarter as a congressional candidate.
“He’s worked hard to earn my endorsement. I wasn’t sure if I was going to endorse in the primary, I tend not to endorse in primaries. Kelly also received an early endorsement from U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, as well as several organizations including VoteVets and End Citizens United.
During Duckworth’s senate run last year, Kelly threw his support behind the then-congresswoman and served as a host during a reception with St. Clair County Democrats. He even criticized then Republican senator Mark Kirk on veterans issues during a conference call organized by the Duckworth campaign before the primary election.
Kelly then received criticism from Kirk’s campaign, which questioned whether the state’s attorney made the conference call from the St. Clair County Building, which Kelly said wasn’t the case.
“I don’t decide who I endorse base on whether they endorse me in the past. I base it on who I think is the best person to serve the people of that district. Do I think if they’re capable of doing the job?” Duckworth said. “I think Brendan is yes on all counts.”
Kelly said he was honored to receive Duckworth’s endorsement.
“Her service to this country is what inspired me to run this race and fight for Southern Illinois,” Kelly said. “Her dedication and sacrifice help power me through the day.”