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Illinois - 7th District

Incumbent -- Danny K. Davis (D) ; Running for re-election

Safe Democratic
Race Ratings Key
 

Updated Sept. 19, 2010

Davis last year stirred up some doubt about whether he would run for an eighth House term. He spent much of the fall publicly mulling a bid for president of the Board of Commissioners for Cook County, which includes Chicago, an office held by Democrat Todd Stroger, who had become extremely unpopular over his four years in the office.

Davis initially filed last November to run for both that post and for his seat in Congress. But three other challengers entered the county board race, including Chicago Alderwoman Toni Preckwinkle, who would go on to win the Feb. 2 primary in which Stroger finished last.

So Davis quickly decided to run for House re-election instead of pursuing the local office. In the meantime, the uncertainty about his plans had prompted several prominent Democrats to file papers to run in the 7th District, a black-majority Democratic stronghold. But three of them - Alderman Bob Fioretti, state Sen. Rickey Hendon and ex-state Rep. Annazette Collins - withdrew, and Davis ended up breezing to victory over three remaining challengers with 67 percent of the vote.

Davis, a fixture in Chicago politics for more than three decades, now is on cruise control for the general election campaign in one of the Democrats' safest House districts. Reaching from the downtown business district through the mostly African-American neighborhoods of Chicago's West Side and into the near-in suburbs, the 7th gave 88 percent of its 2008 presidential votes to hometown candidate Barack Obama. Davis himself can tout a prestigious position on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Nonetheless, if Davis had his druthers, he now would be serving in the Senate as the appointee to the seat Obama vacated in late 2008 following his election as president. Davis made no secret of his desire for the appointment. But he withdrew from that competition after a corruption scandal enveloped Democrat Rod R. Blagojevich, then the state's governor, who was expelled from office by the state legislature and now is under federal indictment on corruption accusations that include an alleged plot to "sell" Obama's vacant Senate seat for financial or political gain.

Blagojevich, before he was ousted from office, appointed Democrat Roland W. Burris, a former state Attorney General who was tainted by the controversy and has decided not to run for a full Senate term this year.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

East to west, the 7th stretches from the Loop, Chicago's downtown business district, almost to the DuPage County line, taking in the well-to-do western suburbs of River Forest and Oak Park. North to south, the district runs from the upscale Lincoln Park neighborhood (shared with the 5th) to 57th Street on the South Side.

The eastern end of the 7th hosts some of Chicago's gems, including the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), newer skyscrapers and the plush high-rises of River North, several museums, and about a dozen colleges and universities. Chicago's "Magnificent Mile" includes high-end shops and first-rate hotels, but economic slowdowns hurt revenue and occupancy rates along the famous stretch of Michigan Avenue. Most people employed in the 7th commute from nearby suburbs to the downtown headquarters of companies such as Boeing, United Airlines, Quaker and Hyatt, as well as to Chicago's financial center. The district also is home to most of Chicago's professional sports teams.

Once home to Chicago's most notorious public housing projects, some dilapidated areas have seen a transition to lofts and galleries, while former residents found homes in communities on the west and south sides of the city. But many residents have begun leaving the poverty-stricken neighborhoods that stretch from the western Loop to the edge of the county. Except for a few communities of middle-class blacks, the West Side has had problems with gang violence, unemployment and crumbling infrastructure.

The 7th fills with white commuters during the day, but the district is still black-majority. A reliably Democratic district at all levels, the only genuine political contests in the 7th are the Democratic primaries. Barack Obama won 88 percent of the 7th's vote in the 2008 presidential election -- his second-highest percentage in the state.

Major Industry

Insurance, financial services, health care

Cities

Chicago (pt.), 493,676; Oak Park, 51,878; Maywood (pt.), 22,081

notable

The Home Insurance Building, built in 1885 and demolished in 1931, is considered the nation's first skyscraper; the Grant Park Music Festival, held annually outdoors in Millennium Park, offers free classical music.

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