How does "President Bernie Sanders" sound to Illinois Democrats? The independent U.S. Senator from Vermont has been climbing in opinion polls in early primary states as frontrunner Hillary Clinton deals with questions about her use of a private e-mail address while she served as U.S. Secretary of State. U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) was an early backer of Clinton's 2016 bid, and while she's sticking with her endorsement, she doesn't have anything negative to say about Sanders.
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"I'm great friends with Bernie Sanders and we have co-sponsored a number of bills together," Schakowsky said. "He's a great progressive, but I am very excited about the first woman to be president, and when she is, she will be the most qualified individual ever in history to serve as President of the United States." U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is also backing Clinton, but having served with Sanders in both chambers of Congress, he says Sanders's focus on income inequality and campaign finance reform is nothing new.
"I think it's that very genuineness and the fact that he's speaking about the important issues that American families face every day that's led to his popularity," Durbin said. Durbin says he's heard from many Democrats, even in Downstate Illinois, who are supporting Sanders over Clinton in the Democratic race.
Clinton has racked up the majority of endorsements from Illinois politicians, including Durbin, Schakowsky, current U.S. Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates), and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.