Thanks to the recently-completed redistricting process, Illinois's Congressional delegation is in for a big shake-up in the 2012 elections. A number of incumbent Republicans have been drawn into unfavorable districts, setting up a feeding frenzy among Democrats to try and unseat them.
Setting up for the biggest Democratic primary battle is the Eighth District, where former Veterans Affairs official and Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth is running against recent state comptroller candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi.
One of the biggest figures, and perhaps the single most well-liked, in Illinois politics has now weighed in on the race: Senator Dick Durbin announced his support for Duckworth on Monday.
"I'm going to help Tammy Duckworth in any way that I can," Durbin said, according to WBEZ. "By endorsing her today, campaigning for her, helping her raise money. It's an expensive undertaking."
Durbin told the Chicago Sun-Times's Lynn Sweet that Duckworth was "like a daughter to him," and the two have a long history together. He met her when she was in Walter Reed Hospital, recovering from the Iraq war injury that cost her both her legs in 2005. The senator became her political mentor, and helped her launch her political career with a narrow loss to Republican Rep. Pete Roskam the following year.
Given that history, Durbin's endorsement wasn't a surprise to most observers. That said, he has only endorsed in two primaries before: once for Barack Obama in 2008, and once for Duckworth during her last run in 2006.
}Krishnamoorthi, for his part, has a longer list of more local political figures whose endorsements he locked down in the month before Duckworth jumped in.
The Thailand-born Duckworth and the Indian-American Krishnamoorthi are running in a district where one in every eight people is Asian-American. The winner of the Democratic primary will challenge embattled Tea Partier Joe Walsh in the general election, if he chooses to run again in the 8th.