Senate ride makes detour through Black community

Tammy_Duckworth,_official_portrait,_113th_Congress
Tammy Duckworth

The United States Senate is known as the most exclusive club in the world, so exclusive that only nine Black people have ever had membership since the United States was founded in 1776. Illinois has sent the most Black members, three, making it the number one producer of Black U.S. Senators in the world.
In 1993, Carol Moseley-Braun, a product of the Harold Washington legacy, was elected as the first Black woman in the United States Senate, where she served until 1999. Then in 2005, Illinois sent rising star Barack Obama to become its junior Senator, who would later be propelled into the Presidency from the seat. Roland Burris was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fulfill the remainder of President Obama’s term in 2009. The controversy surrounding Burris’ appointment allowed North Shore Congressman Mark Kirk to win the seat in 2010, a position that he currently holds.
Sen. Kirk, also a veteran, suffered from a stroke in 2012 and many questioned whether he would return to the Senate, which he did in 2013. But Kirk has had some miscues lately, most notably his “bro with no hoe” comment that he was overheard saying to a colleague on a live microphone. Those miscues and the upcoming presidential election have made Kirk vulnerable.
Duckworth
The senior Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, is hoping to take advantage of that vulnerability by running Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth against Kirk.
Duckworth, an Iraqi war veteran, helicopter pilot, wife, mother and double amputee will be a formidable candidate. She is the a media darling and walking campaign commercial that Durbin hoped to capitalize on in a high Democratic presidential turnout election that many anticipate will feature Hillary Clinton.

A significant portion of the Democratic turnout will come from the Black community, a fact that most Democrats, including Durbin take for granted. What Durbin did not consider, however, was the fact that Black leadership might want the seat back. This past July, Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for U.S. Senate. Then just last week Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin announced an exploratory committee and listening tour in anticipation of his own Senate run.

Andrea Zopp
Andrea Zopp

Andrea Zopp
Andrea Zopp’s resume reads like someone you would expect to be in the U.S. Senate. The Harvard Law School graduate served in the United States Attorney’s Office and as the first Black and Woman 1st Assistant in the Cook County States Attorney’s Office. Additionally, Zopp has held adjunct professorships at Northwestern and the University of Chicago. She is also a wife and mother of three. All of those experiences are tools that Zopp feels she can use to make a meaningful impact in the Senate. But Zopp’s says her time as the President of the Chicago Urban League was her motivation to run for the U.S. Senate.
On Why She’s Running
When questioned on why she was running for Senate, Zopp was direct and straightforward, “We need a new type of leader, one with a track record of experience of working directly in our community on violence, criminal justice and education issues and getting results. Lack of that type of leadership hurts the African-American community directly.”
On Daley Support
Zopp does not deny that Bill Daley, co-chair of Zopp’s finance committee, encouraged her to run for the US Senate, but was clear that she had a broad based of support.
On not prosecuting John Burge
“If you recall Burge was eventually convicted of lying (perjury). We did not have the

same tools at our disposal that the federal government did, and the statute of limitations for what we could do had run out. Burge was in the mid to early ’80s, I was in the Cook County States Attorney’s Office in the ’90s.”
On closing 50 CPS schools
Though Zopp has also faced criticism for being on the Chicago Public School Board that closed over 50 schools in predominately Black communities, she still stands by that decision.
“That is what leaders do. Leaders make tough decisions and expect to be held ac- countable for those decisions,” she said. “The University of Chicago released a study that said 90 percent of those students went to a better school. We are on the path that all kids have access to good schools, but there is more work to be done.”
On the DSSC Snub
When the powerful Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced that it had endorsed Congresswoman Tammy Duck- worth for Senator in the Illinois Senate race, Zopp was not only taken aback but offended, and she spoke out. “The filing deadline was July 15 and I did not want to officially announce until I had filed, then the DSCC makes an endorsement on July 9? They had not made an endorsement in the race in thirty-five years, and then they make this snap endorsement,” she said.
On What’s in a Senator Zopp for Black People
“I am Black. I will be bringing that with me to Washington DC. I am also a mother of three, with a 19-year-old Black son. That fact is not lost on me. Illinoisans need a U.S. Senator with hands on experience, not just intellectual curiosity when tackling these tough issues.”
Richard Boykin
Richard Boykin

Richard Boykin
While Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin has not officially entered the U.S. Senate race, he did recently announce the formation of an exploratory committee. The Jackson, Mississippi-born and Englewood-raised attorney made a name for himself as Congress- man Danny Davis’s Chief of Staff. A graduate of Central State University and University of Dayton Law School, Boykin was elected to the Cook County Board in 2014 in spite of the fact that he did not get the support of the Democratic Party bosses, a fact that Boykin clearly relishes.

In addition to serving on the Cook County Board, Commissioner Boykin is an attorney in Washington D.C. and Chicago at the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg LLC.

On why he is considering running
Boykin made it clear he has not declared yet, but rather, formed an exploratory committee, and will go on a state- wide listening tour to hear what people think. “Two candidates declared and never asked the people what they think the issues are. Political bosses put both candidates in the race. If I get in, I will be the people’s candidate—not the bosses’. ”
On Kirk and Splitting the Black Vote
Boykin scoffs at any suggestion that he could be entering the race as an at- tempt to split the Black vote for Kirk, who Boykin supported in 2010, “when

the Democrats presented a flawed candidate.”
“Absolutely not! It’s offensive to me and the multi-ethnic constituents of my District. I may be a Black candidate, but I want to compete for every single vote. Not just Black votes,” Boykin said pointedly.
Precursor to Congressional Run?
Many have speculated that a Boy- kin Senate run is the precursor to a future run for Congressman Danny Davis’ seat. “Outrageous, preposterous, Democratic party shenanigans, and speculating!” laughed Boykin. “Stay tuned…I am in the race for the people. Congressman Davis is running, and I am supporting him.”

What’s in Senator Boykin for Black People?
When questioned on how his candidacy would benefit the Black community, Boykin answered, “You will get a results-oriented Senator you can touch, not one who will not just come to a pa- rade. I will represent communities that have been left out for too long.”
Zopp and Boykin both have the abil- ity to change the landscape of the U.S. Senate race. With rumors that State Senator Napoleon Harris may also be entering the race as well, Tammy Duckworth’s the path to the U.S. Senate just took a detour through the Black comTammy_Duckworth,_official_portrait,_113th_Congressmunity.

Comments

From the Web