Cheryle Jackson has never held public office and in recent elections those without that experience have failed when trying to win an Illinois US Senate seat. But Jackson hopes some other factors will make the difference.
The first thing Democratic party voters will notice about Cheryl Robinson Jackson is that she's the only woman in the race. Her campaign signage has a definite feminine color and look about it and she's going all out to make herself the favorite of female voters who make up 53 percent of the statewide electorate.
"If it takes a woman to be in Washington to fight for parity and make certain that we don't lose ground and speak up boldly on behalf of that, then I'm happy to be that woman," said Jackson.
"I think, while certainly women will be glad that we will have a woman who is sensitive to these issues, there will be a lot of good reasons for supporting her other than that," said Ann Breen-Grecko, Cook County Democratic Women.
Jackson, who began her leave of absence as Chicago Urban League president on Tuesday, is running against Illinois treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, former Chicago inspector general David Hoffman and lawyer Jacob Meister.
Jackson also is the only African-American candidate in the race for the seat held during the 1990s by Carole Mosely Braun and during the past six years by Barack Obama and Roland Burris, each of them during their terms, the only black voice in the US Senate.
"The race factor plays a part. But it doesn't play the part. It's not the major part. It's whether or not Cheryle Jackson is qualified," said State Sen. James Meeks, (D) Chicago.
"When you dig one grave be careful you don't fall in. And the Democrats dug a grave in terms of Roland and now we have fallen in as the Democratic party because the Republicans are going to take this race. It has nothing to do anymore with black or white," said Delmarie Cobb, political consultant.
From 2003 until 2005, Jackson worked as the communications director for Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. She was asked how she'll distance herself from Blagojevich.
"Already have. I left the first term," said Jackson.
Jackson says she'll hit the road in campaign statewide in the coming weeks. But her supporters agreed her base will be in Chicago's African-American community and among female voters. She hopes that combination will give her at least the push she'll need to win the primary in February.