PI Original Josh Kalven Tuesday August 11th, 2009, 12:33pm

IL-SEN: Jackson Introduces Herself, SEIU To Endorse Giannoulias (UPDATED)

After opting to enter the U.S. Senate race yesterday, Chicago Urban League CEO Cheryle Jackson has begun to make the media rounds.  And she is already facing lots of questions about her work from 2003-2006 as an aide to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  Here's what she told the ...

After opting to enter the U.S. Senate race yesterday, Chicago Urban League CEO Cheryle Jackson has begun to make the media rounds.  And she is already facing lots of questions about her work from 2003-2006 as an aide to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  Here's what she told the Tribune:

"Millions of Illinoisans voted for him because they believed in the change that he would bring, that he would make a difference in the lives of families. That's what I signed up for, and when it became less about that and more about the infighting, that's not what I signed up for and I left," she said. "I  left before the end of the first term. I didn't hop out yesterday, I didn't even sign up for a second term."

And here she is on WLS' Don Wade & Roma this morning

Internal mp3

DON WADE: There are critics who say you are tainted as a candidate because you were the deputy chief of staff for Gov. Blagojevich.  How do you answer that?

JACKSON: Yeah, I'm glad to get that question. I don't know, maybe about 10 million people voted for the governor when he ran.  And they voted for him because they believed in the change that he would bring, and that he would make a difference for families, that he would help working families, help bring health care, make it more affordable, accessible for families. Those are things that people got excited about -- and I was excited about -- and that's why I went to go work for him. 

When it became less about that and more about the infighting that you all covered a lot -- that's not what I signed up for. I signed up for -- to help families, to help people get jobs and health care. And when it became less about that, I left.  I left the first term -- three years into the first term.

And I went to work at a place where I could do that. And I tell you, I wasn't the chief executive officer there. I am the chief executive officer at the Chicago Urban Leage, and that's where I make the decisions.  The last three years I've made the decisions.  I'm proud of that track record. I love the work that we do.

And I think most people understand -- everyone's had that experience: You go and you take a job and you think it's one thing and you're excited to walk into a job and it's one thing.  But you know, as you're on the job and it turns out to be not what you had hoped for -- what you had thought -- you try to hang in there and you tough it out.  And it's not what you signed up for, so you leave.

One thing to watch as this campaign unfolds is how aggressively the Giannoulias campaign pushes the Blagojevich association.  After all, the local media will likely do most of the work for them, as its such a central part of Jackson's professional biography.

Meanwhile, Jackson made clear in the WLS interview that her campaign is going to cast Giannoulias as a child "of privilege" and herself as in touch with the "real people":

Internal mp3

ROMA: Do you think you have a stronger background that Alexi Giannoulias?

JACKSON: Yes, here's the reason why I'm running.  I think I have -- I understand what real people are going through. I know -- I came from a middle class family.  You know, my mother was a stay-at-home mom, my father was an entrepreneur.  And I know what it means to have good days, good times, and bust times. I know what it's like to go without, but to struggle to meet your mortgage and all that.  So I know what real people go through.  And I'm not so convinced -- ad it's great to have a life of privilege, but you know, that's not most people's experience.

At the same time, Giannoulias is already lining up union support, which means a lot of working men and women will be at his side as the campaign ramps up.  On that topic, Lynn Sweet posted this bit of news yesterday:

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, I've learned, is picking up an early endorsement for his 2010 Democratic Senate bid from the Illinois State Council, Service Employees International Union.

The SEIU Illinois State Council sponsors this website.  Once they make the endorsement official, we'll post a disclaimer alongside any of our posts on this race (just as we did during the 5th Congressional District special primary earlier this year).

UPDATE (4:55 p.m.): WBEZ asked Giannoulias today if he plans to target Jackson's Blagojevich ties.  He told them no -- "for now":

GIANNOULIAS: You know, I try to stay on issues - especially now that we're dealing with the fact that every 8 seconds someone in this country loses their home. The fact that unemployment in Illinois is 10.3-percent and is going to get even higher. The fact that people are concerned and scared about keeping their jobs. I think there are a lot more important things to talk about that that - for now.

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