Despite trailing Rep. Tammy Duckworth in the Illinois Senate race, Andrea Zopp met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus ahead of the State of the Union to show she is the best candidate to advance their causes.
Zopp was invited to the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee's annual State of the Union breakfast reception on Tuesday by Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., who also invited Zopp to be his guest at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. "I'm definitely going to ask them to endorse and support her, and I think the values expressed by the CBC are exactly the same values expressed by Andrea," Davis said. Ahead of the address, Zopp will also join Davis for an open house event with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Throughout the breakfast, Zopp was spotted meeting members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-Va., who is ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee.
"It's a privilege to meet some of the members and spend some time with them," Zopp said.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., said having Davis' support was important. "We believe that Illinois, for a lot of reasons that may not have been sociologically and politically analyzed, is probably one of the best spots for a person of color to run because there's history there," he said. Illinois was the first state to elect an African-American female to the Senate, when Carol Moseley-Braun was elected in 1992; before being elected president, Obama famously won his Senate seat in 2004. "She will be a good candidate and will walk in with people supporting her."
Zopp is currently trailing Rep. Tammy Duckworth in the Democratic primary to run against incumbent Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., in a time when the city of Chicago, where Zopp served as CEO of Chicago Urban League, is facing turmoil after the release of the video of the police shooting of a teenager. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who appointed Zopp to the Chicago Public School Board, is among city officials under fire.
Cleaver noted that many people in Congress have ties to Emanuel because of the his time in the House of Representatives, and said he does not think her association with him that would damage Zopp. "I don't think we ought to be tainted by having a relationship with him," Cleaver said. "I'm not going to endorse anything that he has done as it relates to the police in Chicago and his response to one of the most brutal acts against a citizen against a law enforcement."
Davis pointed to her work as a first assistant state's attorney in Cook County, where she prosecuted a police officer who had killed a homeless man, and said this was in line with the Congressional Black Caucus' focus on criminal justice reform.
"I'm the only candidate in the race who has experience on criminal justice issues, who has taken the lead on holding police accountable," Zopp said.
Contact Garcia at EricGarcia@rollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @EricGarcia. Correction 3:58 p.m., Jan. 20
A previous version of this post mischaracterized the shooting of a teenager in Chicago.
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