President Barack Obama endorsed newcomer Juliana Stratton’s campaign Monday to unseat embattled Rep. Ken Dunkin in the Illinois House.
In his endorsement, Obama claimed Stratton will stand up for her constituents.
“I’m endorsing Juliana Stratton because she will stand up for our children, our seniors and our working families,” Obama said in a statement.
Obama, who will appear in radio and TV ads supporting Stratton, also claimed the candidate would fight to combat Chicago’s epidemic of gun violence.
“Juliana will fight to get guns off our streets,” Obama said. “Throughout our neighborhoods, too many young people and families live in fear.”
“These families can’t afford inaction,” the president added.
Stratton previously served as an administrative law judge for the City of Chicago’s Office of Administrative Hearings as well as an executive director of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council and as an executive director for Cook County Justice for Children.
Stratton will face incumbent Dunkin in the March 15 Democratic primary.
Dunkin broke up the Democratic super-majority in the Illinois House of Representatives last year, siding with Gov. Bruce Rauner on certain state budget issues.
He has come under fire from fellow Democrats after holding out on two bills that could have nullified changes Rauner made to social service programs.
During his address in Springfield last month, Obama said making bipartisan compromises “doesn’t make me a sell-out to my own party.” He then turned to Dunkin, who had stood up, and said, “We’ll talk later, Dunkin. Sit down.”
After the speech, Dunkin told Ward Room he had been invited to visit the White House on March 17. Dunkin's office confirmed that he will attend the Beating the Odds Summit at the White House on March 17. The event will honor Community Youth Creative Learning, an after-school program.
Dunkin has recently come under more scrutiny after allegations of vote-buying were made public last week. Secretary of State Jesse White and Ald. Pat Dowell have accused Dunkin of buying votes in the lead-up to the March 15 primary.
The allegations were levied against Dunkin after campaign workers noticed an inordinately large voter turnout at the Chicago Bee Branch library Saturday and went undercover to investigate.
They found that voters had been vetted at Dunkin's campaign headquarters and offered $50 or $100 in exchange for their casting an early ballot for the state representative.
Dunkin was also accused of offering potential voters "free luch and transportation" to and from the Wentworth Gardens polling place last week.
According to a video obtained by Ward Room, the Dunkin campaign also allegedly paid people in cigarettes to help fill the bus.
Stratton was previously endorsed by White, as well as Chicago Teacher’s Union President Karen Lewis, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Father Michael Pfleger, among others.
Over $2 million has been funneled into the primary battle between Stratton and Dunkin. As a result, campaign fundraising records are expected to be broken before the primary. Many consider the race to be a proxy war between Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and Rauner over unions and control of the Illinois House.
Madigan is also facing a tough primary battle against political newcomer Jason Gonzales in his bid to retain his 22nd District House seat.