EMILY's List backs Jackson in Illinois

An influential Democratic fundraising organization is backing a little-known candidate in the race to replace Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), it announced Thursday.

EMILY's List, an organization that backs and fundraises for pro-abortion-rights Democratic women, announced Thursday it would support Chicago Urban League President Cheryl Robinson Jackson for the seat once held by President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaRahm Emanuel: Sanders is 'stoppable' 5 takeaways from the Nevada caucuses Ex-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community MORE.

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National Democrats, after failing to recruit Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D), have largely settled on state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D), who is off to a quick fundraising start.

But with EMILY's List support, Jackson could close that gap. Last cycle, the group raised more than $43 million for candidates it supported, according to a press release.

Ellen Malcolm, EMILY's List's president, called Jackson "an experienced executive dedicated to fostering economic growth" and "a dynamic and charismatic leader who is hands down the best candidate to keep President Obama's former Senate seat in the Democratic column."

Jackson and Giannoulias will also face former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman (D) in the Democratic primary, which is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2010.

So far this year, EMILY's List has waded into two other Democratic primaries, offering support to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) and Illinois state Rep. Julie Hamos (D), one of the top candidates running to replace Rep. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry MORE (R).

Kirk is also running for Burris's seat, though the centrist Republican is attracting several more conservative challengers in the GOP primary. None of Kirk's challengers has his prominent profile — a strong fundraiser with proven electoral abilities whom Republicans believe will give them a better-than-average chance of winning an Illinois Senate seat — but they do demonstrate that some Republicans are uncomfortable with his centrist profile.

But the last time it got involved in a primary in Illinois, the group came up short. State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D) fell short in her bid to replace ex-Rep. Rahm Emanuel when he resigned from the House to take over as White House chief of staff. Instead, Rep. Mike Quigley (D) won the race earlier this year.