Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Sen. Dick Durbin to endorse Joe Biden for president

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Sen. Dick Durbin to endorse Joe Biden for president

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and former Vice President Joe Biden | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file photo; Getty Images file photo

Lightfoot and Durbin were to appear with Reps. Robin Kelly, Mike Quigley, Danny Davis, Brad Schneider and Bill Foster who earlier endorsed Biden.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will endorse Joe Biden for president on Friday, joining a growing list of Illinois elected officials siding with the former vice president over Bernie Sanders in advance of the March 17 Illinois primary.

Lightfoot and Durbin were to announce their Democratic primary pick at the Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson Blvd.

Joe Biden is locking in top Illinois elected officials on a day Jill Biden is in the Chicago area, hitting Glencoe earlier on Friday for a fundraiser and then heading to Rosemont for an appearance before the Illinois Educational Association.

At the Union League club, Lightfoot and Durbin were joined by Illinois House Democrats who earlier endorsed Biden: Robin Kelly, Mike Quigley, Danny Davis, Brad Schneider and Bill Foster.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., endorsed Biden earlier this week. Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker is sitting out the primary.

The only Illinois congressional endorsement Sanders has is from Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., who has been traveling to earlier primary states as a national surrogate for Sanders working to get out the Hispanic vote.

Sanders is in Chicago on Saturday for a rally starting at 1:30 p.m. at the bandshell in Grant Park. Joe Biden is in Chicago on March 13 for several fundraisers and likely a public event.

Pritzker has repeatedly said he won’t endorse in the Democratic primary — but on Friday he said both Biden and Sanders haven’t even asked him for his endorsement.

”Neither one has called me to ask for my endorsement,” Pritzker said at an unrelated press conference in Bensenville. “As you know I’ve taken the stand that any Democrat would be better than Donald Trump. So I will support the Democrat that wins the nomination.”

But Pritzker said he’s “sorry” to see Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren end her presidential bid. Pritzker and his wife were major donors and fundraisers for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid.

”As somebody who put his all into helping the first woman nominee of a major party to win the presidency, and someone who believes that it’s important that women take their place in leadership roles in our nation … I was sorry to see that Sen. Warren is no longer a candidate,” Pritzker said. “And I would say that while we may not end up with a woman president in 2020, it is inevitable that we will have a woman president. And I believe this decade.”


I was the pool reporter for the fundraiser. Here is my pool report:

Event: A fundraiser at the home of Wendy and Frank Serrino in Glencoe, Illinois, an upscale suburb north of Chicago. Wendy is the president and board chair of the North Shore Exchange, a chain of luxury resale shops turning their profits over to charities. Frank is the president of Principi Capitol, an angel investing firm.

Jill Biden spoke in the living room of their home. Almost all the attendees were female. The Illinois primary is March 17.

According to invite: Contributions ranged from $500 to $2,800.

Amount raised: About $100,000 according to Dania Leemputte, who announced it before Jill Biden started speaking. She is one of five women who is on the Invest to Elect Steering Committee, along with Wendy Serrino, Carol Dawley, Karen Parker and Alicia Resnicoff. These women helped put the event together.

The event was put together in about five days. The event is taking place as Biden is surging after Super Tuesday and South Carolina and as the 2020 Democratic primary is now a Bernie Sanders/Joe Biden contest.

The Biden campaign Midwest fundraiser, Jeremy Hallahan, was present. Also present: Sheila Nix, former chief of staff to Jill Biden when she was the second lady during the Obama administration. Nix is the Biden Illinois campaign chair.

Food: This was a breakfast. Menu included frittatas; assortment of bagels, muffins, cream cheese, coffee and orange juice.

Introducer: Tommy Serrino, a poised and polished speaker, a senior at New Trier High School. “Our guest is going to be the next first lady of the United States,” he said. Jill Biden, a teacher, gave Tommy an “A plus” for his speech.

Biden started speaking at 9:36 Chicago time, placing her notes on a music stand with a Biden placard.

HIGHLIGHTS… See comments below about Sanders and the youth vote and about who Biden, if he is the nominee, should tap for vice president.

*Jill Biden said it’s been a “whirlwind” since the South Carolina vote.

*When she got a few days off she went home and saw her grandchildren, who call her “Nana.”

*She recounted how she met and started dating and married Joe and growing up outside of Philadelphia. She was impressed that after their first date, when he took her home and she was wondering, “is he going to make his move,” he “offered me a handshake. And I was so impressed by that. You have to remember the times.” She noted they have been married 42 years.

*On Joe’s leadership: “Anyone can tell you what they want to do, but Joe can tell you what he has already done.” She referenced Biden and his work on the Violence Against Women Act, fighting the NRA and his efforts rounding up votes for the Obama Affordable Care Act.

“He’s won these battles before and he can do it again. And he knows how to take us into the future and not drag us into the past. And honestly, I cannot wait to get to that future.”

“Four more years of a Donald Trump presidency will fundamentally change the character of our nation. We have to beat him….We also need a Democrat who can lead our party to victory, up and down the ticket, so we have to worry about those other races as well.”

*Right now we have the momentum, but this race is not over.” Jill Biden did not make a specific reference to the March 10 and March 17 primary contests.

After that, Jill Biden took questions, where for the first and only time she mentioned Sanders by name.

*Asked how the Biden campaign will get youth votes, Jill Biden said Joe Biden was talking to his campaign about “engaging the youth vote and coming up with some youth advocacy. Because you know Bernie is claiming that he has the youth vote, but guess what, they did not get out and vote for him. So, but, that does not mean that they don’t have great ideas, you know, and Joe has to be a big part of all it, they are voters too. So, we are going to address them, that’s going to be the next thing with our campaign.”

She mentioned youth related issues: affordable housing, college debt, climate change. “These are all things that Joe has responsible plans to address,” she said, emphasizing the word responsible.

*Asked about a potential vice presidential pick, Jill Biden said a priority is to find a partner who is “compatible,” recounting the close relationship and shared values the Bidens had with former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle. That is a relationship “Americans want to see again,” she said.

Jill Biden then turned to the audience – almost all women – and asked them who they wanted. Shouts of Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan were heard by your pooler. Multiple people shouted out the pick has to be a woman.

Biden talked about Harris, the California Senator and former California Attorney General who earlier dropped her 2020 Democratic primary bid.

Quick background: Harris scored headlines when, at debates last summer she confronted Biden on his remarks she said were defending his working with two segregationist senators. Harris called those remarks “hurtful.” Biden said at that debate he never defended “racists.”

Jill Biden said Harris had a very close “bond” with Beau Biden, who was a Delaware Attorney General. When Joe Biden looked surprised on stage when Harris attacked, Jill Biden told the group it was because “our son, Beau, spoke so highly of her and you know, and how great she was. And not that she isn’t, I’m not saying that. But it was just like a “punch to the gut; it was a little unexpected….everyone you mentioned would be a great pick.”

Shared values on the ticket is very important. “Do you think Donald Trump and Mike Pence have the same values?”

“….Let me just say one thing about Amy and Pete. What class acts are they,” Jill Biden said to applause. She added extra praise for Klobuchar, who is campaigning for Joe Biden in Michigan. “What an incredible woman”

Near the end, Julie Dann Schneider, the wife of Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., briefly spoke. Schneider endorsed Biden in January. Glencoe is in his tenth congressional district. Julie Schneider said that Biden is needed at the top of the ticket because he is the only one who can help “hold” the House.

CONTRIBUTING: Tina Sfondeles, with Gov. Pritzker

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