Giannoulias Endorsed By Cullerton For U.S. Senate

08/31/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias unveiled another endorsement for his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign Friday.

State Senate President John Cullerton announced that he would back the first-term treasurer in his bid for President Obama's former Senate seat.

"Alexi Giannoulias is a rising star of the Democratic Party and will fight hard for working families and against the special interests in Washington," Cullerton said in a statement from the Giannoulias campaign.

Cullerton is the most prominent state official to endorse Giannoulias' candidacy. State Sen. James Clayborne, the assistant majority leader, state Rep. Deborah Mell and Aldermen Leslie Hairston (5th) and Toni Foulkes (15th) also announced their support Friday. Congressmen Mike Quigley, Bill Foster and Phil Hare head a list of nearly 80 Illinois politicians who have lined up behind the state treasurer.

Giannoulias is the only major Democrat to officially enter the race. Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson has formed an exploratory committee and Merchandise Mart President Chris Kennedy, a son of Robert F. Kennedy, has been mulling a run for months.

Giannoulias larded his campaign kickoff speech with references to President Obama, his friend and longtime basketball partner. Though Obama's support was instrumental in Giannoulias' treasurer's race win, the White House has said it "won't pick a candidate" in the Senate race. Illinois' senior Senator, Dick Durbin, also hinted at neutrality, telling the Daily Herald "I'm tempted to stay out of primaries."

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican front-runner, has the support of former GOP governors Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson and leading national Republicans.

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