It's official: Tio Hardiman will challenge Mark Kirk for U.S. Senate.
The Chicago Democrat and former Illinois gubernatorial candidate made his announcement Tuesday afternoon, calling Republican Sen. Kirk "out of touch with the working class and poor people of Illinois."
Last month Hardiman teased a possible senatorial bid in an interview with Ward Room and said he planned to "give Mark Kirk the biggest run of his life." Hardiman criticized Kirk for opposing a $10 federal increase in the minimum wage and said he believes he can raise enough money to defeat the junior GOP senator for the state's north surburban 10th congressional district.
Declaring the news Tuesday, Hardiman, an anti-violence activist, again knocked Kirk on the minimum wage issue and also for blocking a federal extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.
Hardiman is planning a Wednesday-morning press conference at the South Loop restaurant Manny's where he's expected to endorse Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Caving to political pressure, Kirk recently endorsed Durbin's GOP challenger Jim Oberweis after initially backing Durbin out of professional loyalty.
Earlier this year, Hardiman entered the governor's in a long-shot effort to nab the nomination away from incumbent Pat Quinn. Though that attempt failed, he observed that now "I have statewide name recognition and (voters) know who I am and what I stand for."
Hardiman intends to campaign on platforms including immigration reform, animal rights, reducing violence, ending illegal gun trafficking, raising the minimum wage and "ending the culture of corruption."
A spokesperson for Kirk did not immediately respond to Ward Room's request for comment.