Chicago-area Democrats in play for Biden administration spots; Lauren Underwood takes lead in close race

On Sunday, according to the Associated Press, Democrat Underwood was ahead of Republican challenger Jim Oberweis by 1,137 votes.

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President-Elect Joe Biden And Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris Address The Nation After Election Win

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris address the nation Saturday after their election win. Chicago area Democrats are in play for spots in Biden’s transition and for appointments in his administration.

Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s transition kicks off Monday with the announcement of members of his COVID-19 task force as Chicago area Democrats are in play for spots in Biden’s transition and for appointments in his administration, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Sunday updates:


On Wednesday, GOP challenger Jim Oberweis, ahead by 895 votes, declared victory, asserting incorrectly only a “handful” of ballots were out when there were thousands of ballots still to be counted in the seven counties in the suburban and rural 14th Congressional District.

On Sunday, according to the Associated Press, Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood was ahead by 1,137, with 192,580 votes to 191,443 for Oberweis. Most of the remaining uncounted ballots are in heavily Democratic areas of Lake, DuPage and Will Counties — where Biden beat President Donald Trump.


Sheila Nix, an Oak Park resident, is the most prominent Chicago area figure on the Biden team, serving as a senior adviser to the campaign. She is well positioned for a role in the transition and administration.

The President of Tusk Philanthropies, Nix has long ties to Joe and Jill Biden. Nix was Dr. Jill Biden’s chief of staff from April 2013 to the last day of the Obama/Biden administration, Jan. 20, 2017.

In the 2012 Obama reelection campaign, Nix was chief of staff for then-Vice President Biden.

Other Illinois people who may have a role include:

Claudia Chavez, a Biden campaign staffer who worked in former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall.

Bill Doerrer, who is running post-election operations for the Biden team and who was the executive director of Emanuel’s Chicago Victory PAC.

Connor Coughlan, a Biden campaign staffer who worked in the Chris Kennedy governor campaign and on Gery Chico’s mayoral bid.

Reyahd Kazmi, a government consultant and early Illinois Biden supporter who was a chief of staff to former City Treasurer Stephanie Neely. He is married to City Clerk Anna Valencia, who helped organize the Kamala Harris presidential campaign in Illinois.

Valerie Alexander, a former chief of staff for Sen. Dick Durbin. Alexander was an early Harris backer.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a wounded Iraq war vet who was on Biden’s short list for vice president, has been in speculative news stories as a potential Defense Department Secretary or Department of Veterans Affairs chief.

Mellody Hobson, the co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments, has also been mentioned in stories as in play for a top slot.

Jake Braun, executive director for Cyber Policy Initiative at the University of Chicago Harris School who worked in the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration. Braun was Biden’s Iowa state director was the deputy national field director for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.


Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, implicated in a federal bribery scandal, is the chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois with his term not up until after the March 2022 Illinois primary.

Last week, the three top Democrats in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker plus Sens. Dick Durbin and Duckworth, said Madigan should step down — since Democratic candidates lost in part because Republicans slammed them for being associated with Madigan.

The 36 state central committee members elect one of their own as chair.

Rep. Robin Kelly, a state central committee member, on Sunday told the Sun-Times if Madigan is “going to have a negative effect on the progress of Democrats, I think he has to look at not being the leader, because you want the leader to take you forward, not take you backwards.”

Two other DPI state central committeemen — former state Sen. Carol Ronen and state Sen. Iris Martinez, earlier this year called for Madigan to step down from his party post.


An Obama ambassador to Canada, Chicagoan Bruce Heyman and his wife, Vicki, organized and co-chaired the American Voter Abroad initiative, working with the Biden Campaign and Democrats Abroad and former ambassadors to boost turnout of American voters not in the U.S.

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