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Not on ballot, but still raising money

November 7, 2018

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, whose district includes Kankakee County, is not up for election today.

But she still is receiving tens of thousands in campaign donations, according to state election board records.

Since Oct. 1, Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, has collected $53,000 in campaign donations, largely from well-heeled special interests. That amount is about the same as the median household income in Kankakee County.

Kankakee County is the battleground for the competitive 79th District contest.

Since Oct. 1, Republican incumbent Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, has drawn more than $400,000 in contributions to Democratic challenger Lisa Dugan’s $350,000. Most of their money comes from their party organizations.

Hutchinson’s donations, by contrast, comes mostly from corporations and labor.

Her donors include utilities, such as AT&T, Nicor Gas and ComEd, pharmaceutical companies, such as AbbVie and Astellas Pharma, and financial firms such as Aetna and CME Group.

Her biggest contributor in the last month is the Chicagoland Operators Joint Labor-Management PAC, which is associated with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. The group gave her $8,500.

Hutchinson’s fundraising is not unusual. Senators in neighboring districts also collect donations even though they are not running.

In an interview, Hutchinson said her donations come as a result of her two annual fundraisers — a golf outing and a jazz event. The need for fundraising, she said, is “just a fact of political life.” She added that she has voted against the interests of her corporate donors before.

“All of us are concerned that we are seeking obscene amounts of money,” Hutchinson said. “If we could do this without fundraising, I would love that. When people call my office, we don’t ask whether they are Democrat or Republican. When someone needs help, they need help.”

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