State Rep.-elect Stava-Murray now plans to run for Durbin's U.S. Senate seat

State Rep.-elect Anne Stava-Murray has not yet been sworn in with the new General Assembly, but the Naperville Democrat already has announced she's going to run in 2020 for the U.S. Senate seat held by Dick Durbin.

Stava-Murray made the surprise announcement in a Facebook post on New Year's Day and a week before her swearing-in to the Illinois House.

"No other candidates have said clearly 'I'm running,' as of this posting. Let me be the first to say, I'm running and I hope you'll vote for me,'" Stava-Murray wrote of her Senate bid.

A first-time candidate, Stava-Murray narrowly defeated incumbent David Olsen, a Downers Grove Republican and former College of DuPage board member, in the race for the 81st Illinois House District seat.

She said Wednesday she wants to get an early start to building a coalition of voters by focusing on issues such as "Medicare for All" and campaign finance reform.

"I want to make sure that I'm spending all of the time and the energy that I need to in my new role and in the role that I'm going to fulfill for two years, and so I want this to be additive and I don't think it needs to subtract," she said. "I think that obviously the legislative experience that I'll get through my two years in the state legislature are going to be invaluable to me as I'm running for Senate and as I'm proving myself as a legislator to people."

Stava-Murray said she's heard speculation that Durbin, 74, is considering retirement and that the shortlist of candidates seeking to succeed him include "very centrist, sort of corporate" Democrats who in her view don't represent the future of the party.

"Do I think that it's problematic that he still thinks that he can do better than giving someone else an opportunity and an ability to build their own leadership and to have other generations as a voice? "Yes, I think that's damaging and I think that's something that he should seriously consider," Stava-Murray, 32, said of Durbin.

She said she's never met the veteran lawmaker but disagrees with his "turn of becoming more centrist."

"I think that he sort of writes off the progressive branch of the party, of which I identify myself with, as being unwilling to compromise, and certainly there might be some key players who aren't giving the progressive cause a good look, but in the most part what I see when I talk to my fellow progressives and Democrats in Springfield and other fellow progressive Democrats is a total willingness to work across the aisle."

Without Durbin's name recognition, Stava-Murray could face an uphill battle mounting a statewide campaign if the Springfield Democrat and Senate minority whip decides to seek a fifth term. When asked if he intends to pursue re-election, a Durbin spokeswoman pointed to an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Sen. Durbin has made no official announcement, but did speak to the issue on Meet the Press on 12/23," spokeswoman Emily Hampsten said in an email Wednesday.

At the end of that interview, moderator Chuck Todd asked Durbin whether he had made a final decision about running for re-election in two years.

"Listen, I tell people that I'm raising money and trying to lose some weight," Durbin said. "That's usually the first indication that you're up for re-election."

During her campaign, Stava-Murray declined party support and pledged to vote against Michael Madigan's bid for an 18th term as House speaker.

She recently told the Chicago Sun-Times she received threats from lawmakers who warned she would face retaliation for opposing the powerful Chicago Democrat.

"After winning my election, there are a few in my party who have tried to bully me in a very obvious way for my respectful vote against Speaker Madigan keeping his unprecedented power," Stava-Murray wrote in her Facebook post. "I'm the third person in over 30 years to do so. However, many people have also been supportive and friendly behind the scenes. To the state Democrats willing to work with me and the thousands of everyday people across the state who have commented, sent letters, emails and FB messages in support, I say 'thank you.'"

Earlier last year, Stava-Murray also was featured on a Time cover as part of a collage of Women's March participants the magazine called "The Avengers." After marching on Washington in 2017, Stava-Murray became a community organizer and co-founded a Naperville Women's March Action group that hosted rallies in the city's downtown.

A graduate of Dartmouth College and Benet Academy in Lisle, Stava-Murray previously worked as a senior market research manager.

Dick Durbin
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