Cheryle Robinson Jackson earned the endorsement of a powerful women's political group Thursday, just one day after officially launching her campaign for President Obama's former Senate seat.
EMILY's List, a political force for pro-choice women candidates, announced it is throwing its support behind Jackson's candidacy. The former spokesperson for Gov. Rod Blagojevich who is on leave from her job as president of the Chicago Urban League will benefit from the group's substantial national fundraising network, which raised $43 million for women candidates in the last election cycle.
"As the first female president of the Chicago Urban League and after holding high-level positions with Amtrak and National Public Radio, Cheryle is an experienced executive dedicated to fostering economic growth and empowering people across Illinois," Emily's List president Ellen R. Malcolm said in a release. "Emily's List is proud to endorse Cheryle Robinson Jackson to be the next Senator from the state of Illinois."
Jackson has made creating jobs and promoting women's issues signature elements of her campaign.
"I saw first-hand the devastating impact this recession has had on our middle-class and working families and I was in the trenches working everyday to help solve those problems," Jackson said in a statement. "And from that vantage point, I now know more than ever, Illinois needs a senator that understands everyday people and the challenges they face."
Jackson faces a field of men in the Democratic primary: State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman and Chicago attorney Jacob Meister. U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk is the likely Republican nominee.
Jackson sought to portray herself as a candidate in tune with women voters as she kicked off her campaign.
"More and more women are the head of their household," Jackson said in a campaign release. "They also are the largest group suffering from home foreclosures and they are likely to get paid less than a man for the same job. It's now more imperative than ever to provide quality health care, to assist families and homeowners, protect our reproductive rights, and to support and enforce the Lilly Ledbetter Act, where a woman must be paid an equal dollar for an equal days work."
Jackson is the only African American candidate for the seat currently held by Roland Burris and formerly occupied by President Obama and Carol Moseley Braun.
"The race factor plays a part," state Sen. James Meeks told ABC 7. "But it doesn't play the part. It's not the major part. It's whether or not Cheryle Jackson is qualified."
Watch video of the campaign kickoff from Progress Illinois: