Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Andrea Zopp picked up the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., on Sunday.
Davis backed Zopp over his colleague, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a war hero who has gained the endorsement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Zopp, 58, and Duckworth, 47, will compete in the Democratic primary election in March. The winner will face Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who has no serious primary threat. The window to file a petition to run for the Senate closes on Nov. 30.
Davis, 74, announced his endorsement Sunday at MacArthur’s restaurant on the West Side.
“I have nothing but admiration and respect for Tammy Duckworth,” Davis said Sunday by phone. “But I think Andrea Zopp has been more engaged in many of the issues that affect people in my district, particularly her work with the Chicago Urban League with job promotion and development.”
A spokesman for Duckworth declined to comment.
Zopp is the former head of the Chicago Urban League, a nonprofit organization that works for economic, educational and social progress for African-Americans. She also held executive positions with Sears, Sara Lee and Exelon; served as a federal prosecutor and first assistant Cook County state’s attorney; and was on the Chicago Board of Education.
The endorsement by Davis, who has served in Congress since 1996, could be important in securing African-American votes for Zopp.
“It really helps me solidify my support on the West Side of Chicago,” Zopp said by phone on Sunday.
The endorsement brings with it some potential controversy because Zopp has a connection to Davis through his niece, Quinshaunta Golden, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for her role in a multimillion-dollar theft and bribery scheme involving government grants and contracts awarded by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Zopp was listed as a character witness for Golden, her friend. She was unable to appear before a federal judge to plead for leniency, but she wrote a letter to the judge.
Zopp also is expected to be endorsed by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., which also could give her backing from African-American voters on the South and West Sides of Chicago.
According to third-quarter campaign finance figures, Zopp’s war chest stood at $816,367.62.
The number pales in comparison to Duckworth’s campaign piggy bank, which held $2.8 million.
Both candidates face an uphill battle against Kirk’s campaign fund, which contained $3.62 million.