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Cheryle Jackson Unveils Senate Race Endorsements, Name Change

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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheryle Jackson unveiled a couple of big endorsements and a name change this week.

Jackson, the president of the Chicago Urban League, announced that she has the backing of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and the Rev. James Meeks-- who does double duty as a state Senator from the far South Side-- in her bid for President Obama's former Senate seat.

"Cheryle is exactly who Illinois needs in the U.S. Senate," Rush said in a campaign press release. "Like many of us, she worked her way up to become a force for change and progress for everyday people. She understands from personal experience how important quality health care, education, and access to good jobs and opportunities are to Illinois families."

Jackson, who was also endorsed by the the Cook County Democratic Women Organization, faces a tough primary fight against State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman. The Rush and Meeks endorsements could help her cause while hurting that of Giannoulias, the front runner, notes veteran political writer Laura Washington:

Meeks' move is a loss for Jackson's competitor, Senate candidate and Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who has also been a Meeks ally and regular Salem visitor.

Until Jackson jumped into the race, Giannoulias had hoped to tap into his "basketball friendship" to curry black support. (African American pols and civic leaders tell me that has irked them to no end).

The release from Jackson's campaign trumpeting the endorsements included another bit of news that went unmentioned by her camp: Jackson has decided to revive her maiden name and is now going by Cheryle Robinson Jackson.

"There's no reason or why," her spokesman, Bob Kettlewell, told Lee Newspapers' Kurt Erickson. When asked if the switch was a strategic nod to other female Senators who went by three names- Carol Moseley Braun and Hillary Rodham Clinton- Kettlewell insisted "absolutely not" and that nothing larger should be read into the move. Nevertheless, Capitol Fax's Rich Miller wonders if poor polling numbers could be behind the switch.

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