Cheryle Jackson, Chicago Urban League President, announces run for US Senate in Illinois

I'm not a politician. That's what my opponent is, a politician. I'm not that. I'm a problem solver.”

— Cheryle Jackson

Cheryle Jackson to Run for U.S. Senate
Urban League CEO pledges campaign based on 'Change, Community and Opportunity.'

Chicago Urban League President & CEO Cheryle Jackson said today that she plans
to run for the seat once held by Barack Obama in the United States Senate.
Jackson will announce her candidacy for the Democratic Primary next month.

"As president of the Urban League, I've seen first hand how empowering a job and
opportunity is for all of Illinois," the 44-year old Jackson said. "I've watched
people lost in a cycle of hopelessness and underachievement, and I've seen what
can happen when people have a chance to compete. We have a lot of people in
pain, a lot of people anxious and worried in this nation and in our state. We
need to get back to the values that made Illinois great - change, community, and
opportunity. That's what my candidacy will be about."

Jackson is credited with strengthening the Urban League and helping bring
opportunity, prosperity and hope to thousands of Chicagoans. "The problems we
deal with at the Urban League are the same problems Illinoisans from Rockford to
Metropolis deal with every day - a lack of jobs and economic development, the
need for quality, affordable health care, and schools that can better educate
our children so they can compete in the global economy," Jackson said. "I have
first-hand experience dealing with these issues and helping people from all
walks of life, and now more than ever we desperately need that kind of
experience in the Senate."

"We've made a difference in Chicago and now I want to make a difference for our
state. It's no secret that the same political insiders bring us the same
results. We've had the same health care debate in this country for three
decades," Jackson said. "We're not going to change anything if we keep electing
the same people, bought and paid for by the same special interests. My candidacy
will be about change, community, opportunity and an end to catering to the
privileged few on the inside while the rest of us on the outside look on."

Jackson recently hosted the National Urban League conference that was attended
by Vice President Joe Biden and scores of successful entrepreneurs from all
walks of life. The conference focused on economic empowerment and highlighted
the League's efforts to cultivate high-growth businesses that create wealth for
owners, jobs for people, and industry in communities. It was an enormous

Under Jackson's leadership, the Urban League has changed its mission, focusing
less on social services and more on economic empowerment. Jackson led the effort
to launch ProjectNext - a new agenda focused exclusively on economic empowerment
to drive social change - and Partners in Faith, an initiative pairing the League
with the church, which for many Illinoisans represents the center of their
community, business and other stakeholders to create pathways to personal
success. These programs and initiatives focus on creating jobs, connecting
people to jobs and preparing and training people for jobs.

Jackson has been encouraged to run by people of every age, race and gender. "I'm
going to spend the next few months listening to people and talking with them
about their hopes, dreams, fears and wishes. I'll put together a first-rate
campaign and it's going to be based on and focused on the people who really
matter but have been on the outside and overlooked - working families, women,
children, and our elderly, to whom we owe so much," she said.

The Senate seat Jackson is pursuing has been held by many prominent Democrats in
the Illinois progressive tradition, including Adlai Stevenson III, Paul Simon,
Carole Mosley Braun and President Barack Obama.

"There is no more storied Senate seat in this nation," Jackson added. "I would
be honored to serve the people of Illinois in that United States Senate seat."

Urban League President Cheryle Jackson is officially in the race for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2010.

Her only rival in the Democratic primary at the moment is state treasurer Alexi Gianoulias.

In Chicago's African-American community, Cheryle Jackson is often lavished with praise for rejuvenating the Urban League organization. In only three years, Jackson, 44, shifted the institution's focus from civil rights and social service to economic development. How that success translates into a statewide political campaign will be the story.

DON WADE: There are critics who say you are tainted as a candidate because you were the deputy chief of staff for Gov. Blagojevich. How do you answer that?

JACKSON: Yeah, I'm glad to get that question. I don't know, maybe about 10 million people voted for the governor when he ran. And they voted for him because they believed in the change that he would bring, and that he would make a difference for families, that he would help working families, help bring health care, make it more affordable, accessible for families. Those are things that people got excited about -- and I was excited about -- and that's why I went to go work for him.

A political rookie who was a top aide to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Monday that she intends to run for the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson's entry into the race makes her the best-known black candidate to seek the seat that has been held by three of the nation's four black senators in modern times. The Senate's only black member — Roland Burris — currently holds it. He is not seeking a full term because of fundraising troubles.

Jackson's candidacy would mark the entry of an African-American into the Democratic race for a seat with a history of black officeholders, including President Barack Obama, Carol Moseley Braun and its current occupant, Blagojevich-appointee U.S. Sen. Roland Burris.

While Jackson could benefit from her ties to national Democratic activists, she will face questions about her association with the disgraced Blagojevich, Illinois' first Democratic governor in a quarter century. Blagojevich was thrown out of office in January following his arrest a month earlier on federal corruption charges that included allegations he tried to sell the Senate seat Obama vacated for the presidency.

Cheryle Jackson, president of the Chicago Urban League and former press secretary for ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, announced this week that she will run for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate next year.

Jackson, 44, was a former Ameritech vice president before working for Blagojevich from 2003 to 2006 and taking over the Urban League. She will face state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in the primary.

“I want to focus on the economy, jobs, I know a little something about that, helping to create jobs, supporting entrepreneurs to create jobs, connecting people to jobs, preparing and training people for jobs,” Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Former Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson made it official last Wednesday -she's running for the United States Senate in next year's election.

A likely candidate since the summer, Jackson, 44, officially kicked off her campaign last Wednesday on the South Side, using BJs Market and Bakery, 8734 S. Stoney Island, as the backdrop for her announcement. The small business was helped by Project NextOne, an Urban League initiative spearheaded by Jackson to promote economic recovery and job creation.

John Meyer, owner of BJ's, introduced Jackson, saying: "I have a special relationship with Cheryle. I was a member of the last class of the NextOne program. It was a phenomenal program; it let me learn more about my business, but most important, about myself.