Democratic Secretary of State candidate Alexi Giannoulias gains edge in getting AFL-CIO backing with endorsement from Illinois Federation Teachers

E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune

The Illinois Federation of Teachers has endorsed former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’ bid for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state in next year’s primary, his campaign announced Monday.

“Alexi Giannoulias understands the importance of a strong public education system, spanning from pre-K to higher education, and is committed to supporting Illinois educators,” said Dan Montgomery, president of the organization and its more than 100,000 members.

“The office of the secretary of state oversees libraries and how young people learn to drive. These are critical issues of importance to our membership,” Montgomery said in a statement.

With the IFT’s endorsement, Giannoulias has secured backing from some of the largest members of the Illinois AFL-CIO, giving him an edge in getting support from the state’s largest organized labor group when it convenes next year ahead of the June 28 primary.

Giannoulias also has received endorsements from the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters and the Laborers, who together represent more than 400,000 workers. With the addition of other affiliated unions that have also backed Giannoulias, he has the backing of more than 550,000 AFL-CIO members, his campaign said.

The Illinois AFL-CIO said its 1,500 affiliated unions represent nearly 900,000 workers.

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In a statement on the IFT’s endorsement, Giannoulias said he would use the secretary of state’s post to advocate for teachers’ rights, protect their health and safety in the classroom and safeguard their retirement savings.

“I share IFT’s commitment to providing a first-rate education for every child in this state — regardless of where they live — and supplying our students with the necessary tools to succeed after they graduate,” Giannoulias, who formerly chaired the Illinois Community College Board, said.

Giannoulias was state treasurer from 2007 to 2011. In 2010, he lost a bid for the U.S. Senate against one-term Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. He is attempting a well-funded political comeback in trying to succeed longtime Secretary of State Jesse White, who is retiring.

Also seeking the Democratic nomination are Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia and Alds. Pat Dowell, 3rd, and David Moore, 17th. Republican state Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington is seeking the GOP nomination.