03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Schakowsky Endorses Giannoulias For Senate

Democratic frontrunner Alexi Giannoulias trotted out another endorsement in his bid for President Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky this weekend became the latest of Illinois' Congressional Democrats to line up behind Obama's old basketball buddy, joining fellow Illinois Democratic Reps. Luis Gutierrez, Phil Hare, Bill Foster and Mike Quigley.

Schakowsky is a leading proponent of health care reform, particularly the public option, and she praised the state treasurer for pledging to support families over insurance companies.

"Alexi Giannoulias is the best candidate to retain President Obama's seat because he has the courage to take on powerful interests and stand up for Illinois families," Schakowsky said in a statement. "He supports health-insurance reform that will reign in the soaring costs of premiums and protect families from losing coverage during these difficult economic times."

Giannoulias faces former Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, and attorney Jacob Meister in the Democratic primary.

North Shore Congressman Mark Kirk is fending off a challenge from Hinsdale developer Patrick Hughes in the Republican primary.

Kirk has been a consistent opponent of the Democratic-led health care reform efforts, and Giannoulias and Schakowsky criticized him as being on the wrong side of the debate.

"Jan and I believe in a simple proposition: if you pay your premiums your insurance company should cover you - no exceptions, no caps, no limits," Giannoulias said in a statement. "Mark Kirk disagrees. He believes in protecting insurance companies, not protecting people."

As of the latest reporting period, Giannoulias leads all candidates in money raised.