PI Original Adam Doster Wednesday December 30th, 2009, 2:46pm

IL-SEN: Vallas Backs Hoffman, Giannoulias On Iran, Jackson Reshuffles

Here's the latest from the race for U.S. Senate in Illinois ... Today, David Hoffman picked up an endorsement from Paul Vallas, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO and 2002 Democratic gubernatorial candidate who now runs Recovery School District of Louisiana. From a ...

Here's the latest from the race for U.S. Senate in Illinois ...

Today, David Hoffman picked up an endorsement from Paul Vallas, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO and 2002 Democratic gubernatorial candidate who now runs Recovery School District of Louisiana. From a statement:

"David Hoffman is the type of individual we need in elective office," said Vallas. "He has always put principle ahead of politics, is an individual of great integrity and will be an exceptional United States Senator." [...]

"Too often we're faced with very little choice in political campaigns," said Vallas. "In this race, there is a clear choice for the people of Illinois to cast their vote for a candidate with a true record of accomplishment who has stood up to special interests.  They have the chance to vote for a proven leader."

Earlier this year, Vallas entertained ideas about running for Cook County Board President as a Republican, even meeting with House Minority Leader Tom Cross and former state chairman Andy McKenna to assess his public standing and fundraising capabilities. If nothing else, the endorsement is a missed opportunity for Rep. Mark Kirk, who will need to lock up support among independents like Vallas if he wants to regain the seat for his party.

In other news, Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias issued a statement today calling on Iran to halt uranium enrichment or face "a comprehensive set of sanctions that target the government and empower citizens." More from the release:

"Iran has a stark choice tomorrow: meet the year-end deadline to ship its low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for fuel, or continue down the dangerous path of building a nuclear weapon," Giannoulias said. "If Iran fails to engage, the U.S. and international community must impose targeted efforts to pressure the government to abandon its nuclear ambitions and halt its brutal crackdown on Iranian citizens."

Cheryle Jackson made a bit of news yesterday when the Sun-Times reported that the Urban League president had fired her campaign manager, Rodney Shelton, on Christmas Eve. The campaign offered no justification.

On the Republican side, Andy Martin -- a perennial candidate, anti-Semite, legal nuisance, and rumor godfather -- rolled out a radio ad Monday questioning Kirk's sexuality. It's since generated a ton of coverage, both from the local media and the Republican Party itself, which quickly disavowed Martin's candidacy. Capitol Fax's Rich Miller, however, highlights an angle the local media has overlooked: Martin's source for the rumors are well-known Republicans Jack Roeser and Ray True, both of whom have attempted to distance themselves from attack in the days since:

The fact is that Roeser and True got busted outside their little ultra-conservative comfort zones. And instead of owning up, they ran away from their own comments. That was probably predictable. But what bothers me far more is that nobody in the media has yet bothered to press Roeser and True to come clean. After all, without those comments, Martin couldn’t have run that radio ad. They are as responsible as he is.

Roeser and True are both longtime Illinois political players. They regularly make endorsements and contribute money to campaigns, whether directly or through their respective organizations. So while we’re all publicly bemoaning Andy Martin’s little ad, perhaps we should also be focusing on the source of this hateful nonsense - and on the candidates those two guys support.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Jacob Meister, who is openly gay, lambasted Martin's attack in a December 28 release.  It's worth noting that the phrasing of Meister's statement seems to assume that Kirk is, indeed, homosexual:

Today, Andy Martin, one of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate from Illinois, launched an insidious attack on the sexual orientation of his opponent, Mark Kirk. The use of sexual orientation in this race, whether overt or by innuendo can no longer be tolerated. Mr. Martin’s statements are clear attempts to use sexual orientation as a political weapon and are criminal in their perpetuation of ignorance and prejudice.

As the only openly gay candidate for the U.S. Senate, I have experienced firsthand the bigotry and prejudice that the sexual orientation issue evokes. [...]

Under the current circumstances, and in accordance with the very laws that he has whole heartedly advocated, Mark Kirk is subject to being removed from military service. I vehemently oppose the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Maybe now that a member of Congress may fall victim to the unfair treatment of gay and lesbian soldiers in our military, we will be able to defeat this civil rights barrier that keeps good men and women from fighting on behalf of our country. [Emphasis added]

Full Disclosure: The SEIU Illinois State Council, which sponsors this website, has endorsed Alexi Giannoulias in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

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