Boykin Drops Plans for Senate Campaign to Focus on County

Norman Parish | 9/16/2015, 4:56 p.m.
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin is not running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois.
County Commissioner Richard Boykin (Dist.-1st) says he is staying out of the Senate race in Illinois.

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin is not running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois.

Boykin, who said last month he was considering entering the Democratic race for Senate, said he wants to concentrate on local issues affecting his county district.

“I want to give more time to my constituents,” said Boykin, (1st Dist.). “There is a season for everything and this not a good season for the Senate.”

Boykin said he planned to meet with Democratic senate candidates U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (Dist.-8th) and Andrea Zopp, former head of the Chicago Urban League.

Immigrant rights activist Susana Sandoval also is seeking the post and Ill. State Sen. Napoleon Harris III (Dist. 15th) said he will run for the job.

Boykin said Duckworth and Zopp are the leading candidates in the race and said he isn’t sure which one he will back.

Lionel Kimble Jr., associate professor of history at Chicago State University, said Boykin’s decision to stay out of the race will probably help Zopp, who is African American. Both Boykin and Harris also are African American.

But Kimble said having black candidates in the race insures that issues affecting African Americans will be discussed during the campaign.

“Competition is good for the process,” Kimble said.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican.

Boykin said he held meetings with residents throughout the state before deciding not to seek the Senate.

“From East St. Louis to Peoria, from Springfield to the South Side of Chicago, it’s abundantly clear that our state is crying out for a strong and principled leader to represent our interests in the U.S. Senate,” Boykin said. “The scourge of gun violence, the need to expand economic opportunity to all corners our state, the imperative to strengthen our safety net to provide mental health services to all those Illinoisans in need of care – these are the values that our Democratic Party must stand up for.”

The Commissioner said his decision not to run “was a difficult but there is still much work to be done.”

Boykin is currently pushing a plan for the county and the city of Chicago to develop a joint task force to help crack down on illegal heroin sales.

“This problem is a drain on our taxpayers,” Boykin said.

“Recently, more than 40 people were arrested on the [West Side] involving heroin.”

He said many suburban residents come on the West Side to purchase heroin.

“We have to come up with solutions to deal with this problems and create public awareness for it,” Boykin said.