SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Education Association (IEA) Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly to recommend J.B. Pritzker for the Democrat primary candidate for governor. The vote came after a Pritzker recommendation from the IEA IPACE executive committee.

“All the candidates we met with were impressive and thoughtful. Our membership did not come to this decision lightly,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “It was Pritzker’s strong commitment to funding K-12 education, his promise to invest in higher education, his pledge to protect collective bargaining rights and his willingness to enact a progressive income tax that matched our goals for public education in Illinois.”

IEA members also cited Pritzker’s electability as a reason for the recommendation, pointing out the Pritzker campaign structure, his high name recognition and a comprehensive state-wide campaign strategy.

“I am so proud to receive the endorsement of the Illinois Education Association and the over 135,000 educators and education support professionals they represent,” said Pritzker. “Every child in Illinois deserves a quality education, no matter their zip code and as governor I will partner with the IEA to make that a reality in our state. Our educators will have a seat at the table as we fight to fully fund public schools and ensure equitable school funding in Illinois. With the IEA on our team, I’m confident we can continue to grow our statewide, grassroots movement, defeat Bruce Rauner, and get public education in Illinois back on track so every child has the tools they need to reach their full potential.”

The IPACE Executive Committee went through an exhaustive process of seeking a gubernatorial recommendation that began in November 2017. All candidates, both Democrat and Republican, were given the opportunity to complete questionnaires.  State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston; Regional Office of Education Superintendent Bob Daiber, businessman Chris Kennedy and Pritzker all completed the questionnaires and were interviewed by the full IPACE executive committee along with nearly 40 observers, representing IEA members from all parts of the state. Additionally, the candidates were given the opportunity to share their campaign strategies and polling with IEA leadership. Republicans, Gov. Bruce Rauner and state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, did not return the gubernatorial questionnaire and as a result were not interviewed.

Additionally, IPACE conducted a poll of IEA members in early January to gauge the mood of IEA members in regard to the upcoming election. The poll involved 600 members and sought input about all of the candidates, both Democrat and Republican.

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The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.