Dillard wins backing of second teachers union

State Sen. Kirk Dillard picked up the backing of another group of educators Sunday as the 100,000-member Illinois Federation of Teachers announced it is endorsing the Hinsdale Republican in his bid for governor.

The IFT joins the Illinois Retired Teachers Association and Illinois Education Association in supporting Dillard, who faces state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa in the March 18 primary.

"Sen. Dillard has been a tireless advocate for public schools and our communities and a strong voice for teachers and retirees regarding the unconstitutionality of recent pension theft legislation," IFT President Dan Montgomery said in a news release.

Montgomery said Dillard is just the second Republican the IFT has endorsed for governor, joining former Gov. Jim Thompson. The union represents teachers and staff in pre-kindergarten to 12th grade school districts, higher education professionals, public employees, and retirees throughout Illinois. About one third are members of the Chicago Teachers Union.

"I'm truly honored by this support from the Illinois Federation of Teachers," Dillard said in a news release. "As I've said about our previous endorsements from teachers organizations, my father was a public school teacher for 40 years, and would be proud to see so many hardworking teachers getting behind our campaign."

Dillard last year voted against the controversial law diminishing teachers' retirement benefits to cut back on the state's billions of dollars of unfunded obligations.

Rauner in particular has attacked "government union bosses" and criticized Dillard for accepting donations from teachers unions in the past.

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