Local elected Democratic public officials are taking sides in the contested state Senate primary race between Eric Mattson and Rachel Ventura.
Mattson, the newly minted state senator, earned support from his predecessor and another state lawmaker in the primary race for the seat representing the 43rd District.
State Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, and John Connor, the former state senator whom Mattson was appointed to replace, threw their support behind the Joliet firefighter in his race against Ventura, a Will County Board member.
“Eric is someone whose reputation in public service has been well known for decades in Joliet,” Connor said in a news release. “That’s clear when you speak to anyone who’s ever volunteered for Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army, Eric’s name and his work inevitably comes up. There’s no doubt he’ll represent us well in Springfield, just as he always has right here at home.”
Manley, who serves as the assistant majority leader in the Illinois House of Representatives, said in a statement Mattson is “committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and with the current assault on Roe v. Wade it is more important than ever that we have staunch supporters of women’s healthcare in Springfield.”
Mattson also has been endorsed by State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, and several local trades and firefighter union groups.
The endorsements are the most telling signs yet of Mattson’s support from the major players within the local Democratic party. The announcements come less than a week after local party leaders chose him to replace Connor who resigned to care for a family member.
Party leaders selected Mattson among the six who applied for the position, although one, former Joliet Councilman Warren Dorris, withdrew his application.
Ventura criticized Mattson’s appointment and argued it would give him an advantage heading into the June 28 primary election.
In a post on her campaign Facebook page, Ventura accused the “Democratic machine” of looking for a candidate to run against her in the race.
“The appointment comes as no surprise as the local political machinery has been doing everything they can to prevent a strong voice that will challenge the status quo in Springfield,” she wrote.
Ventura also has garnered support from two local Democratic officials, Joliet Township Supervisor Angel Contreras and DuPage Township Supervisor Gary Marschke.
“With her experience in County government, she understands the policy decisions that have led the economy to only benefit the very few,” Contreras said in a statement. “As a state senator, Ventura will stand out in Springfield, and I know that she will continue to shine a bright spotlight on the broken system.”
She’s also received endorsements from progressive groups like Our Revolution Illinois, the Gun Safety PAC and Planned Parenthood Illinois Action.
The 43rd District stretches from Bolingbrook to south of Joliet.