State Sen. Toi Hutchinson is expected to drop out of the 2nd District special Democratic primary on Sunday and throw her support behind former state Rep. Robin Kelly in the contest to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, multiple sources said late Saturday.
The move, expected to be announced in a morning news release, shakes up the Democratic field just nine days before the Feb. 26 primary election.
Hutchinson recently experienced a pair of setbacks during the short campaign. A super political action committee run by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg started airing a TV attack ad backing Kelly and attacking Hutchinson and another candidate, former one-term U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete, for past support from the National Rifle Association. Gun control has loomed as a big issue in the contest.
In addition, Hutchinson had to deal with a recent news report detailing how she paid her mother as a campaign consultant. Hutchinson also was not listed as a participant in upcoming WTTW-Ch. 11 candidate forums.
Hutchinson's camp began contacting supporters tonight telling them of her intention to drop out of the contest, said two sources with knowledge of the decision. Word of Hutchinson's plan to endorse Kelly on Sunday via a news release also surfaced, according to a source familiar with the situation.
If Hutchinson exits the contest, there will be three major Democratic candidates left in a 15-candidate field: Kelly, Halvorson and 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale of Chicago.
Hutchinson got an early boost in the contest when Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle endorsed her instead of Kelly, who served as a top aide to Preckwinkle.
As of Feb. 6, Kelly trailed Hutchinson in cash available to spend. Kelly reported $88,820 available while Hutchinson had more than double at $199,901. Hutchinson’s campaign has engaged in a significant direct-mail campaign since that time. For the entire campaign, through Feb. 6, Hutchinson reported raising $281,106. Hutchinson has been endorsed by Preckwinkle, who gave her $1,000.
Overall, campaign disclosure reports showed Kelly has raised more than $303,725 since the start of the short campaign through Feb. 6. Campaign aides to Kelly said she has raised $417,727 for the campaign cycle through Wednesday.
Tribune reporter Bill Ruthhart contributed to this report.
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