CHICAGO (AP) — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Monday that she’s endorsing state Sen. Toi Hutchinson in the race to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. over her former staffer, state Rep. Robin Kelly.

It’s the most high-profile endorsement so far in the Feb. 26 primary. Other Democratic candidates include former Congressmen Debbie Halvorson and Mel Reynolds.

“There are lots of qualified people in this race but I felt it was important to make a choice and Toi Hutchinson will be the strongest candidate,” Preckwinkle told The Associated Press before an appearance at a City Club of Chicago event.

Preckwinkle said it was a difficult decision because the candidates are qualified. Hutchinson is well placed to win because her legislative district is within the 2nd Congressional District, Preckwinkle said.

The Hutchinson endorsement is nothing against Kelly, Preckwinkle said. Kelly was Preckwinkle’s former chief administrative officer.

Jackson resigned in November, citing health problems and acknowledging he’s under investigation. The Chicago Democrat had represented the district since 1995.

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