Juliana Stratton held a news conference Thursday to announce a host of powerful endorsements as she moves forward with her bid to unseat state Rep. Ken Dunkin, her opponent in the March 15 Democratic primary for the state’s 5th District House seat .
Stratton was endorsed Thursday by Secretary of State Jesse White, Chicago Teacher’s Union President Karen Lewis, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Father Michael Pfleger, among others.
Dunkin supporters protested the event, holding signs that read “Pass a budget, Springfield” and “Fire Mike Madigan.”
"Of all the people that endorsed my opponent not one has proposed a solution beyond taking more money out of the paychecks of everyday working people," Dunkin told Ward Room. "They are not the most trusted representatives in their community, so no it's not daunting because my focus in putting people over politics."
Dunkin broke up the Democratic super-majority in the Illinois House of Representatives last year, siding with Gov. Bruce Rauner on the state’s budget. Rauner received less than 20 percent of the vote in Dunkin’s district.
“In the past weeks, I have talked to thousands of residents while walking door to door,” Stratton said during the news conference. “Right now the people of this district do not have a voice in the statehouse and they’re suffering as a result of the Rauner-Dunkin agenda.”
Dunkin also received a $500,000 campaign donation from the Illinois Opportunity Project Monday. The group was co-founded by former Republican gubernatorial candidate and conservative radio host Dan Proft.
“Ken Dunkin took a half a million dollar thank you gift for voting against our families,” Stratton said. “That is not putting people over politics.”
Stratton’s powerful Democratic supporters took the opportunity to comment on Dunkin’s record as a state Representative.
“I always say when you take on a job, you take on the responsibility for everybody,” White said. “In the case of Ken Dunkin, he has been a big disappointment to me and to his constituents, to the people of the 5th District. The message is they can no longer afford Ken Dunkin.”
Following Rauner’s State of the State address last week, Dunkin made headlines when he came to a news conference with a backpack and sleeping bag promising to camp out at House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office until the state’s budget stalemate was resolved.
"I fought the speaker and the governor to get $2 billion in funding released for my constituents," Dunkin said. "My opponent's plan is to follow the speaker's plan, which is to remain silent. The quickest way to ensure the residents of the 5th District don't have a voice is to turn our district over to another Mike Madigan rubber stamp."
Stratton previously served as the Deputy Hearing Commissioner for the city’s Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection as well as Executive Director of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council and Executive Director of Cook County Justice for Children. She currently serves as Director for the Center for Public Safety and Justice at the University of Illinois Chicago and President of JDS Mediation Services, Inc.
The primary election for the Democratic nomination for the state’s 5th District House seat will be held on March 15.