GOP gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard received a big endorsement Friday, with the Illinois Education Association throwing its support behind the state senator.
The teacher's union and its 130,000 members are traditionally viewed as Democratic voters, but that may not be the case in the March primary.
"I have heard from many of our members, both Democrats and independents, who have said this is such a crucial election," IEA president Cinda Klickna said. "It is about public education, and we are going to be taking a Republican ballot."
"We doggone better broaden out our base," Dillard said. "They have workers, they have supporters, and they have hundreds of thousands of members."
Dillard won the organization's support four years ago as well, but that doesn't mean they see eye-to-eye on every issue. For instance, Dillard disagrees with the union on the progressive income tax.
State treasurer Dan Rutherford is the only other candidate who asked for the IEA endorsement, but he's been distracted over the past couple of weeks by a former employee's civil lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.
Rutherford reversed course this week and decided not to release the results of an internal investigation conducted by the Treasurer's office.
"We are 100 percent at fault for telling him not to produce those documents," Rutherford's newly-hired attorney Peter Andjelkovich said. "When someone makes an allegation, unfortunately in the sexual harassment realm, the allegation is sometimes more damaging than the outcome."
The suit against Rutherford may take years to make its way through federal court, and while it has sidetracked his campaign, it may have a positive impact on Dillard, who's been trailing in the polls.
"We all have a goal. He wants to be governor like I do, and I don't like to see anyone stumble," Dillard said.