The scene last Sunday at the West Side headquarters of Cong. Danny Davis resembled one of President-elect Barack Obama’s sparking rallies from the campaign.
Sunday’s press conference at 3333 W. Arthington was Davis’ first public event in vying to replace Obama in the U.S. Senate. An Arkansas native and former Chicago alderman, Davis was flanked by a who’s-who’s of Chicago and Illinois elected officials. He was also joined by wife, Vera, president of the Westside NAACP.
Davis, who’s spent more than a decade in the U.S. House as a representative of the 7th Illinois congressional district, was the clear choice of the elected officials present. Obama officially resigned his senate seat last Sunday and it will be up to Gov. Rod Blagojevich to pick his replacement.
Davis supporters also included businessmen, community activists and clergy. The overflow of people listened as Ald. Emma Mitts (37th Ward) introduced speakers, Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele, Bethel New Life founder Mary Nelson, and Rev. Gregory Livingston. Also speaking were former Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele and Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mt. Pilgrim Church.
Vera Davis, standing by her husband’s side, thanked his supporters. Davis addressed the crowd, saying, “I am so pleased so many of my fellow elected officials, members of the clergy, staff, friends, community leaders and neighbors have joined together this afternoon here at what once was the corporate headquarters for Sears, Roebuck & Company; to let Gov. Blagojevich know, and the citizens of Illinois know, that you would like to have me represent you in the United States Senate.”
Davis said he was humbled that his West Side colleagues would extend such political capital on his behalf.
“I want you men and women to know that I appreciate it,” he told the group. “I say that with the greatest humility and the greatest of hope.”
Davis went on to acknowledge friends and family.
“I want to thank my wife Vera who stands here. She has knocked on doors, worked precincts, spent her money, put up posters; and I want you to know, Vera, I appreciate you.”
Davis earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Arkansas, his masters from Chicago State University and has a doctorate. He talked about his time in Chicago and city’s political scene.
“Since living in Chicago, I worked in several areas. I worked as a postal clerk…taught in the Chicago Public Schools for six years, and I have been a community organizer,” he said. “I worked in health care [and] helped start a community health center right behind where we are: the Martin Luther King Health Center…In every legislative body in which I served, I have always been able to sponsor and passed meaningful public policy initiatives…I am a coalition builder and work well with all communities.”
Davis also talked about the importance of having a black in the Senate. With Obama’s resignation, the upper chamber is without any black senators.
“I think that it is important that the state of Illinois get the very best replacement for Barack Obama, who can be found. Obviously, African Americans, like all Americans, feel a need to be empowered; feel a need to be represented…So I think the governor will try and find that person and where they stand on issues, be it male, female, African American, or Latino.”
If appointed, Davis said the biggest issue needing immediate attention is the economy.
“How do we create some jobs and economic development opportunities?” he asked. “How do we put some money in the pockets of some of the people in this room? I am hoping we can have another stimulus package before actually adjoining the congress for this year. We’ve got to free our troops out of Iraq. We got to make sure that we have the kind of tax structure where we’re not giving away for those who don’t need and taking away from those who don’t have.”
If Davis is appointed to the Senate, a special election will take place to fill his congressional seat.