Davis wins comfortably, but coronavirus is top of mind

24-year incumbent congressman fends off three challengers in Dem primary

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Congressman Danny K. Davis cruised to victory in the Democratic primary on March 17 to once again become his party's nominee for Congress in Illinois' 7th District.

The 24-year incumbent won Chicago with 66 percent of the vote and won the Cook County suburbs with 52 percent of the vote. The 7th District includes North Riverside west of 13th Avenue and a small portion of far northwest Brookfield.

None of Davis' three younger challengers -- Austin gun control activist Kina Collins, Oak Park teacher and activist Anthony Clark and Chicago attorney Kristine Schanbacher -- garnered more than 20 percent of the vote in the city or suburbs.

When reached by phone on March 18, the congressman's mood was less celebratory than cautiously optimistic that the U.S. Senate would pass a coronavirus-related economic relief bill that he and his colleagues in the U.S. House passed on early Saturday morning.

The bill, which was passed for a second time on Monday due to a technicality, includes an increase in unemployment insurance, paid sick and family leave for some workers and a provision that allows citizens to receive free coronavirus testing.

According to multiple reports, the U.S. Senate is expected to pass the bill on Wednesday.

"The coronavirus obviously has the country within its grasp at this moment," Davis said during an interview from his West Side office.

Normally, he would be preparing to fly to Washington, D.C. on March 23, he said.

"We don't know when we will go back," Davis said. "We don't know what the schedule will be until the House leadership makes that determination."

Meanwhile, Davis said, House members have been communicating by email and phone.

"A few days ago, there were more than 200 of us members on the call," Davis said. "That means everybody is as interested as they can be, especially right now. People's jobs have been shut down, they can't work. Hopefully, we'll have a real federal response to this in a minute."

Davis, who was in office when 9/11 and the Great Recession happened, said that this current crisis is different from the others, because it directly involves public health and the answers to resolving the crisis are less obvious.

"We know what's causing this, but we don't know that we've got an antidote," he said. "We're saying the best way to keep this from spreading is just don't get together. That sounds strange and vague to a lot of people, but that's what the experts say that we have to do. Let's put as much faith as we can in what our leaders and experts are telling us. Beyond that, I really don't know if there's much else that can be done."

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