Mar 8, 2024 - Election

Democrats fight over West Side congressional seat

Photo of two men embracing at a gathering

President Biden talks with Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) after delivering the 2023 State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

The Democratic primary in Illinois' sprawling 7th Congressional District is shaping up to be a dogfight.

The big picture: Illinois' entire congressional delegation is up for re-election this year. Most primaries are uncontested or heavily favor the incumbent, but 7th District Rep. Danny Davis' re-election bid is a notable exception.

Context: Davis is running for his 15th term, and his district has seen drastic shifts in demographics since the Democrat began in 1997.

  • The 7th was redistricted in 2021 and includes gentrified neighborhoods like the West Loop, the South Loop and parts of downtown.

State of play: Davis recently secured the endorsement of Gov. JB Pritzker and a slew of Illinois Democrats, including Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.

  • Davis hasn't seen much competition for his seat in the past, but the 2024 primary has two challengers that could give the 82-year-old a run for his money.
Photo of a man and woman talking to reporters outside an office door
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin talk to media at City Hall on the mayor's first day in office, May 15, 2023. Photo: Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Zoom in: City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin initially said she'd run only if Davis retired, but she changed course and jumped in after the incumbent decided to give it another go.

  • She's been the treasurer since 2019 and was a state legislator before that. She's a well-known politician in Chicago, married to Ald. Jason Ervin.
  • Conyears-Ervin received an endorsement from the powerful Chicago Teachers Union, who helped get Johnson elected last year, as well as a collection of powerful pastors.

Conyears-Ervin would be enough to worry any incumbent, but add progressive upstart Kina Collins to the mix, and Davis has a huge challenge.

  • Collins pushed Davis in the 2022 primary but came up short. The 32-year-old returns this time with more of a political machine behind her, and she's already stirring up the race with a fundraising concert featuring indie rock band The Strokes.
Photo of a woman sitting at a table
Kina Collins hosts a discussion on abortion access and reproductive rights at the Kehrein Center for the Arts in Chicago on May 16, 2022. Photo: Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Meanwhile, two other Democrats are running to unseat Davis. Nikhil Bhatia and Kouri Marshall round out the five candidates.

  • In the Republican primary, Chad Koppie is running unopposed.
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