In Chicago's African-American community, Cheryle Jackson is often lavished with praise for rejuvenating the Urban League organization. In only three years, Jackson, 44, shifted the institution's focus from civil rights and social service to economic development. How that success translates into a statewide political campaign will be the story.
"I'm not a politician. That's what my opponent is, a politician. I'm not that. I'm a problem solver," said Cheryle Jackson, (D) U.S. Senate candidate.
Cheryle Jackson is not worried that her name recognition is not very high outside of Chicago. But she's convinced that once voters know what she's accomplished as president of the city's Urban League chapter, developing jobs for unemployed Chicagoans, they'll understand she's the right woman at the right time.
"We've been focused on creating jobs, connecting people to jobs and helping to educate and train and prepare people for jobs. That's all that I've been doing, immersed in this work, hands-on experience and in the trenches," said Jackson.
Jackson could not say how many jobs she's helped create or preserve in her three years as Urban League president. From 2002 to 2005, she was press secretary to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a job she says she quit after Blagojevich became embroiled in political in-fighting that characterized his administration.
"I left the Blagojevich administration because I didn't sign up for the...in-fighting. I left the first term, three years into the first term," said Jackson.
Jackson's primary opponent will be Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias who has big lead in fundraising and continues to build endorsements from party leaders. He had no comment on the Urban League president's entry into the race.
Jackson's base will include African-Americans with whom she's worked closely in recent years and as the only announced female candidate she's hopes to get support from women voters.
"Certainly I'll bring that perspective to D.C. Being pro-choice...knowing the particular challenges that women are faced with, you know, on the workforce," said Jackson.
Jackson says she will run a statewide campaign. But so far, most, if not all of her political activity has been centered in the Chicago region.
Giannoulias rolled out the endorsements of five labor unions on Monday and incumbent Senator Roland Burris, who announced he would not seek re-election, tells ABC News he might run despite his earlier statement.
Charles has more on the political beat in his Precinct 7 Blog.