President Barack Obama has injected himself into local Illinois politics in endorsing Juliana Stratton in the 5th district state House race.
In two new ads set to air on TV and the radio through the March 15 primary, the president details his take on why Stratton would be a good pick for voters.
"Juliana Stratton will bring a new voice to Springfield as State Representative," Obama states in the ads, although his image is not featured on the TV commercial. "She is the strong and devoted leader our neighborhoods need."
The $400,000 ad buy follows a call to the Stratton camp from the Democratic National Committee, which informed the campaign of the president's desire to help.
The race between challenger Stratton and incumbent Ken Dunkin, who has come under fire for failing to vote for legislation that would have rolled back funding cuts Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner made to the Child Care Assistance Program and senior services, is one that illustrates the battle between Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). Dunkin's legislative move in favor of Rauner cost Madigan a veto-proof supermajority. And in what has been seen as a token of gratitude by those critical of the state rep, Dunkin has since been supported by Rauner-affiliated operatives, having received a $500,000 campaign contribution last month from the Illinois Opportunity Project (IOP), which has ties to the GOP and "promotes public policy solutions rooted in economic liberty and the leaders who advance such solutions," according to the organization's website.
Obama got in the game to apparently clarify his stance after Dunkin insinuated that the president supported him in a radio ad, according to the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet. While visiting the state legislature last month, Obama also said he would support candidates that back his policies, particularly those on gun issues. The president also told Dunkin to "sit down" during his speech to the general assembly when he jumped up and yelled, "that's right!" when Obama said that a lawmaker's vote against their party should not result in them being labeled as a traitor.
"We'll talk later, Ken," Obama went on to say in response to Dunkin's interruption.
The race in the 5th district has become increasingly acerbic with Dunkin facing backlash over the weekend for allegedly taking part in vote buying, which the state legislator vehemently denies.