Russ Feingold makes first House endorsement: Ilya Sheyman in Illinois

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) has endorsed Ilya Sheyman in his Illinois House primary, making him the first House candidate to receive Feingold's support this election.

"Just like you and me, Ilya is a progressive who's grown frustrated with the way Washington is no longer supporting America's working families," Feingold, a favorite of liberals, said in a statement sent to supporters. "Fortunately for us, he's putting his values into action by running for office, where he can be a forceful voice for the policies that will help the majority of Americans... As politician after politician caves to the wishes of Wall Street and corporate lobbyists, we need to focus more than ever on making sure we're there to support courageous activists like Ilya."

Sheyman is in a competitive primary against Democrat Brad Schneider, a more centrist candidate backed by the New Democratic Coalition. The two are vying to take on freshman Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) in a newly redrawn district designed to give Democrats the edge.

Feingold is not the only big-name liberal to help Sheyman: Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D), who Sheyman used to work for, has endorsed him and will visit the district for a fundraiser soon.

Schneider's campaign has circulated an internal poll showing him with a 29 percent to 14 percent edge over Sheyman, but local observers say that Sheyman has had a more energetic campaign to date, and that he is popular with grassroots activists in the district. Schneider has the cash advantage so far in the race, and has raised more money in-district than Sheyman.

Early voting has already began in the race, and both candidates are on television. The primary is in March 20, just two weeks away.

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