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Jackson endorses Zopp's bid for U.S. Senate

The Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Andrea Zopp in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Sunday endorsed former Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp in her bid to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Zopp will face U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth and state Sen. Napoleon Harris in a primary election March 15. The winner is expected to face Sen. Mark Kirk in the general election Nov. 8.

“I’ve known Andrea Zopp for 30 years. I support her unequivocally,” Jackson said during a news conference at Zopp’s campaign headquarters in Bronzeville. “She has worked on curbing easy access to guns, and supports a call for urban reconstruction. She knows first-hand we don’t just need better policing; we need better police accountability.”

With Jackson at her side, Zopp jabbed at Duckworth about debates.

“I am the only candidate willing to come and talk about these issues in more than one debate,” Zopp said.

Duckworth has categorized two upcoming candidate meetings before newspaper editorial boards as debates, but only one traditional debate has been scheduled.

“[Duckworth] doesn’t want real debates in front of the voters because she knows Andrea has a better record,” said Bryce Colquitt, Zopp’s campaign manager. “She just wants to run the clock out.”

Duckworth spokesman Matt McGrath said: “I think her response has been unfortunate, but we are looking forward to squaring off in these three debates.”

Harris’ campaign spokesman Sean Howard declined to comment.

Jackson said Zopp’s time while serving on the Chicago Board of Education — during which she supported a no-bid contract that ultimately landed former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett under federal indictment — is not a focal point for him.

“She did not determine what the board would do,” Jackson said. “I would hope we would look at the sum total of her record as a public servant.”

He said there is enough blame to go around when it comes to the crisis at CPS.

“It is a mess, and no one person should bear the burden of that mess,” said Jackson, who plans to lead a voter registration drive in support of Zopp, a former federal prosecutor and business executive.

Jackson dismissed questions about Harris’ campaign and the possibility that his candidacy could split the black vote.

“I don’t know him,” Jackson said. “I’m a firm believer for someone I’ve known for 30 years.”