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updated: 1/28/2013 1:11 PM

Preckwinkle endorses Hutchinson in 2nd District

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Associated Press

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says she's endorsing state Sen. Toi Hutchinson in the race to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Preckwinkle told The Associated Press on Monday that it was a difficult decision because the candidates are qualified and include former state Rep. Robin Kelly who once worked for her. Preckwinkle says Hutchinson is well placed to win because her legislative district is within the 2nd Congressional District.

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She says it's nothing against Kelly, who was Preckwinkle's former chief administrative officer. She says Hutchinson is simply the "strongest candidate."

Preckwinkle's endorsement is the highest profile one so far in the Feb. 26 primary. Other candidates included former Congressmen Debbie Halvorson and Mel Reynolds.

Jackson resigned in November citing health problems and acknowledging he's under investigation.

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