“Sure,” said Forest Park resident Etta Worthington, “I have voted for Danny Davis in the past, but that was before Kina Collins.”
When Kina Collins ran in the Democratic primary against Danny Davis in 2020, she received only 13.9% of the vote. Two years later Collins garnered an impressive 45.3% against the incumbent who has represented the 7th Illinois Congressional District for 14 terms — since 1997.
Four Forest Parkers explained the remarkable surge.
Betty Alzamora put it this way. “The district is long overdue for representation that leads with urgency on the issues that matter to our communities at its core.”
“I can’t support our current representative who may have done great things years ago,” Worthington explained, “but seems strangely silent now on important issues. The fact is our congressman is not leading on core progressive issues.”
“I’m an AOC girl myself,” Heather Vickery declared, a comment indicating the urgency felt by folks who vote for Collins.
At a meet-and-greet/fundraiser held at O’Sullivan’s, Congressman Davis urged everyone present to be patient. Without naming his challenger in what was then the upcoming primary, he named many of the issues Collins was addressing but added, “It takes time. It takes a process. I’ve been working on these issues for years.”
Just before the primary election, President Biden joined other establishment Democrats in endorsing Danny Davis.
Kina Collins’ supporters, however, have run out of patience.
At the O’Sullivan’s event, Mayor Rory Hoskins explained why he has been a Danny Davis supporter for two decades saying, “I’m supporting Congressman Davis because I know him personally; I’ve known him 20 years. He’s very good to Forest Park in terms of money for streets, grants to help our fire department, in terms of other programs that help our village.”
A week after the Highland Park mass shooting, Worthington said that Collins has a “clearer sense of what the district needs,” adding, “she is addressing issues in ways the incumbent has not. She’s really talking about climate change and gun control. I can’t support our current representative.”
Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, a professor of journalism at Columbia College, invited Collins to be a guest speaker in a class she teaches called, “Defending Democracy.” I brought her in because students needed to meet actual candidates to connect the idea of voting to the reality of candidates, and I chose her because I thought she would inspire my students — and she did!”
Vickery called Collins “gutsy and tenacious.”
Betty Alzamora added, “I admire how Kina doesn’t rest on the laurels of her past achievements and instead is relentless in seeking out new and lasting solutions for the issues of our time, whether it is gun violence protections, health care, or economic justice, to name a few.”
The incumbent, said Worthington, “appears to be just coasting. I know Collins will be there in Congress and will show up to vote [unlike the incumbent]. Kina is a breath of fresh air. She is passionate, committed, energetic and will fight for all constituents in the district.”
Everyone acknowledges that Collins has experience working to reduce gun violence. In 2017, Kina founded the Chicago Neighborhood Alliance, with the goal of empowering activists to end gun violence in Chicago through civic engagement.
Although Collins has not held an elected office, Vickery said, “I support Kina because she has real experience writing and passing bills, even as ‘just a resident.’”
Sarafina Chitika noted that “she co-authored House Bill 5544 in the Illinois General Assembly, which created the Illinois Council on Women and Girls, and was able to get it passed under a Republican governor.”
“Kina will not be beholden to corporate donors or interests,” said Alzamora, “and will be visible and present at community meetings and the frontlines of change, informed by the people she is elected to represent.”
Collins outraised Davis by more than $150,000 and, according to Worthington, none of it came from PACS.
A new report from the People’s Campaign Research Project confirms that Rep. Davis’ re-election campaign is funded with 73.4% of contributions coming from corporate PACs.
According to Worthington, Collins’ success in fundraising is one sign she is gaining national recognition which has contributed to her surge at the polls.
“As a first-generation American citizen and a woman of color,” said Alzamora, “I have long appreciated that Kina cares deeply about immigration justice. She believes we can reimagine and reinvent the system into one that is humane and compassionate, prioritizes social and economic investment in immigrants, and provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Kina takes a firm and unequivocal stand on immigration justice — and that has earned my trust and respect.”