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Simmons drops Senate bid, endorses Hynes

The Associated Press

July 10, 2003, 2:41 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD -- A southern Illinois millionaire has dropped his bid for the U.S. Senate and is backing state Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Edwardsville lawyer John Simmons said Thursday he wants to avoid a nasty Democratic primary next spring in the race to replace retiring Republican Peter Fitzgerald of Inverness.

"Dan Hynes has the experience to win and to lead,'' Simmons, who has never held elective office, said in a statement. "I hope that my exit from the race will make the primary less divisive and put Dan in an even better position to win the general election.''

The 35-year-old Simmons, who planned to spend as much as $15 million in the primary alone, also says he wants to devote time to reopening a steel plant in Alton and spending time with his family.

"I am grateful for John's endorsement,'' Hynes said in a statement.

Hynes' campaign said the endorsement adds to his strong downstate support. Hynes has the backing of former U.S. Rep. Glenn Poshard, state Sen. Vince Demuzio (D-Carlinville), and 71 of 96 county chairmen outside of the Chicago area, a statement said.

Other Democrats who have announced for the race or are potential candidates include former Chicago School Board President Gery Chico; Chicago businessman Blair Hull; state Sen. Barack Obama of Chicago; Metamora Mayor Matt O'Shea; Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and Chicago health care consultant Joyce Washington.

Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune

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