Illinois State Sen. Ira Silverstein has filed to run for re-election despite being stripped of his leadership position since a victims' rights advocate accused him of sexual harassment.
There are several Democratic challengers also filing to oppose Silverstein in the Democratic primary. In the last election Silverstein ran unopposed. He has been in the state senate for 18 years.
One of the new challengers, Ram Villivalam, the former political director for Congressman Brad Schneider, has received the endorsement of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who in the past had supported Silverstein.
“Ram has a proven track record of standing up for working people and the most vulnerable in our society,” Schakowsky said, adding that “his work in advocating on behalf of women who provide home care for seniors, child care for working families and Medicaid treatment for those in need has helped prepare him to best represent the people in the 8th District."
Also endorsing Villivalam is State Rep. Theresa Mah and Water Reclamation District Commissioner Josina Morita. Mah and Morita, like Villivalam, have Asian-American roots. Mah is the first Asian-American member of the Illinois House and Morita is the first Asian-American elected to a Cook County-wide board. Should Villivalam win, he would be the first Asian-American elected to the Illinois State Senate.
When NBC 5 reached Silverstein by phone he had “no comment” about losing Schakowsky’s support. Other candidates expected to file petitions in the 8th District Senate race include Caroline McAteer-Fournier, Zehra Quadri, and David Zulkey.