Jonathan Swain kicks off bid to succeed Rep. Bobby Rush in jammed Democratic primary

Swain’s campaign said he kicks off his bid having raised just over $200,000 from about 75 donors — with the war chest giving him a potentially meaningful running start.

SHARE Jonathan Swain kicks off bid to succeed Rep. Bobby Rush in jammed Democratic primary
Jonathan Swain kicked off his congressional campaign with a $200,000, war chest, his campaign said. He is a former Zoning Board of Appeals chairman, shown here at a 2015 hearing.

Jonathan Swain kicked off his congressional campaign with a $200,000, war chest, his campaign said. He is a former Zoning Board of Appeals chairman, shown here at a 2015 hearing.

Brian Jackson/Sun-Times Media

WASHINGTON — Jonathan Swain —until recently the CEO of anonprofit helping Black youths succeed in college, the owner of a Hyde Park upscale liquor and wine store and a City Hall veteran — on Tuesday launched his Democratic bid to succeed Rep. Bobby Rush, with his first job to find a way to stand out in the jammed field.

Swain filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 24, and, instead on making a formal announcement right away — that came Tuesday — he used the time to put together a team of political professionals to work on social, digital and media strategy, get his nominating petitions on the street and do substantial fundraising.

So far, including Swain, 15 hopefuls registered with the FEC for the June 28 primary in the 1st Congressional District, which stretches from part of the South Side, to the southern suburbs, to near Kankakee on the south and around Channahon on the west.

Swain’s campaign said he launches his bid having raised just over $200,000 from about 75 donors — with the war chest giving him a potentially meaningful running start.

A Hyde Park resident, Swain, born on July 27, 1975, attended grammar school at St. Dorothy and high school at St. Ignatius College Prep. Swain received his undergrad degree from Duke in 1996; a law degree from Northwestern in 1999; and an MBA from the University of Chicago in 2006.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley tapped Swain as chair of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals; Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans appointed him as one of the City Board of Election Commissioners, where he served five years. Swain also was a Deputy Commissioner under Daley in the Department of Planning and Development.

Eventually, he joined a family business — the Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, which he now owns. He founded the Hyde Park Brew Fest and is a former president of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.

Swain stepped down as the president and CEO of LINK Unlimited Scholars once he jumped in the congressional contest. The nonprofit is devoted to making sure promising Black students get in and do well in college.

Though Swain is making his first bid for elected office, the former Board of Election commissioner is no stranger to what it takes to run a campaign. He is also a co-founder of Black Bench Chicago — which provides training for aspiring Black leaders in politics and public affairs.

Swain hired the Global Strategy Group for polling; the Dover Strategy Group for mail; Gambit Strategies for digital and paid media; and KJD Strategies for fundraising.

His general adviser is Becky Carroll, president of C-Strategies.

The top tier contenders in this primary so far appear to be Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), because she had a head start, switching from a secretary of state race to Congress; Jonathan Jackson, because his father is the Rev. Jesse Jackson; and Karin Norington-Reaves, who has Rush’s endorsement.

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