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Political Note #376 Lauren Underwood IL 14
2022 General Election
In 2018, Americans elected 88 new Members of Congress. 20% of the House of Representatives was new. 60 of those new Members were Democrats – more than 2/3 of the total. 30 of the 60 new Democrats were women. 50% is a kind of parity. 14 of the 60 new Democrats (almost one quarter) are gone. Not all were defeated in 2020. One resigned in a scandal. One became a Republican. One has been named to Joe Biden’s cabinet. One lost by 6 votes, quite possibly unfairly. Subject to considerable criticism, she dropped her effort to get the loss overturned by the House.
Of the Democratic class of 2018, one group is particularly worth noting: Joe Negusa CO 02, Jahana Hayes CT 05, Lauren Underwood IL 14, Sharice Davids KS 03, Steve Horsford NV 04, Antonio Delgado NY 19. In 2018, these six people of color ran and were elected to represent majority white districts. They all are still in Congress. They have staying power. A community organizer, a teacher, a nurse, a tribal business leader, a politician, and a lawyer.
Even though this piece focuses on Lauren Underwood, there are three more people of color from the Class of 2018 to be mentioned: Ayanna Pressley MA 07, Colin Allred TX 32, and Deb Haaland NM 01. All three won reelection in their plurality white districts. Deb Haaland has moved on. She is the Secretary of Interior.
Lauren Underwood https://underwoodforcongress.com is the nurse. She was reelected in 2020 with 50.67% of the vote. Her district, IL 14, was once represented by former Republican majority leader, Dennis Hastert.
Growing up, she would not have anticipated going into politics. You can see the turning points that made her who she is.
- Her family moved from Ohio to Napierville, Illinois when she was a three. Lauren Underwood grew up in a city that is 75% white, 5% black that was, nevertheless, well suited to her.
- As young girl, Lauren Underwood was diagnosed with a rare and serious heart condition. Appreciative of the care she received, she decided to become a nurse – a commitment she sustained.
- One of few African Americans in her high school, Lauren Underwood got a peek at government when she was selected to join the city agency reviewing housing discrimination.
- As a nursing student at the University of Michigan, she took a course that transformed her ambitions.Lauren Underwood recalls her course on nursing and health care politics and policy as the inspiration that moved her toward health policy rather than direct care nursing.
- Because of her interest in policy, she moved closer to Washington for further study. At John’s Hopkins, Lauren Underwood got two Master’s Degrees – one in nursing, one in public health. While at Johns Hopkins she scored a summer internship with her home state’s junior senator. The experience created a new ambition for her. Maybe she could become a US Senator.
- Barack Obama, Illinois’s junior senator, became President. Lauren Underwood got a job in the US Department of Health and Human Services. She worked on health crises — unusual contagious diseases, natural disasters. Then she became a Senior Policy Advisory to the Department Secretary. Her job was to help make the Affordable Care Act work.
- Her interest in politics was supercharged by the election of Donald Trump, as president. Lauren Underwood began 2017 near Washington – as the Senior Director of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs at Next Level Health and as an adjunct at Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies. By August, she was in Illinois announcing her run for Congress.
- At a public forum in Illinois, Lauren Underwood had wrested a promise from Randy Hultgren, her Congressman. He promised he would not vote to make obtaining health insurance more difficult for those with previously existing conditions (like Lauren Underwood’s heart condition). He voted for the Republican plan to scrap the Affordable Care Act – violating that promise. Pointing to his promise and its betrayal, Lauren Underwood announced her run against Randy Hultgren.
Lauren Underwood has an effective politician. She defeated Hultgren based on his withdrawn promise. She deflected his accusations that she supported a single payer health plan explaining it was a great goal, but not to be tried until there were better answers about costs.
Lauren Underwood’s 2020 opponent was Jim Oberweis. Owner of a dairy and a state senator for eight years, he was a frequent flyer. He failed to get the Republican nomination for US Senate in 2002 and 2004, failed to get the Republican nomination for Governor in 2006. He did get the nomination to run for IL 14 twice in 2006 – in a special election and in the general election. He lost both races. He found his level of political incompetence getting elected to the Illinois Senate in 2012, but did not stop running for higher office. He got the Republican nomination of US Senate in 2014, but lost. His run against Lauren Underwood in 2020 was his third failed attempt to represent the district.
Jim Oberweis does not give up easily, Like Iowa’s much criticized Democrat Rita Hart who may have lost her race by six votes, Oberweis notified the House of Representatives he was challenging the results of the election. The Republicans who criticized Rita Hart did not noticed Oberweis.
Lauren Underwood has been busy representing IL 14. The youngest Black woman to ever serve in Congress, she is a member of the Black Congressional Caucus, the Black Maternal Health Caucus., and the LGBT Equality Caucus. She does not report having joined any of the ideological caucuses, though she is a member of the Future Forum which works on behalf of the next generation and the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
Lauren Underwood has done well in her committee appointments. She serves on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. She was recently selected to serve on the House Appropriations Committee. She is Vice Chair of the Homeland Securities Committee and, in connection with that committee, Chair of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Committee. (It is tempting to wonder if she got that chairmanship in the same way that the family 14 year old is put in charge of dealing with the family internet. In the new media, the young prevail.). No small matter, as a member of the Education and Labor Committee and the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee, she is in a good spot for a nurse.
Despite her youth, Lauren Underwood has established herself as a figure in Congress. She has one of the more progressive voting records in Congress, Her district is not an easy win. If 2022 proves to be like most mid-term elections – with an animus against Members of the President’s Party and if she gets a stronger opponent than Jim Oberweis, her tenure will be in danger.
Help her now. Put her in a position to discourage the most serious candidates. Put her in a position to sustain the political organization needed to win an election. Make a donation to Lauren Underwood’s https://underwoodforcongress.com campaign
Members of Congress who won with less than 51% of the vote
Iowa 03 Cynthia Axne https://cindyaxneforcongress.com Received 48.9% of the vote in 2020
Illinois 14 Lauren Underwood https://underwoodforcongress.com Received 50.67% of the vote in 2020
Michigan 08 Elissa Slotkin https://elissaforcongress.com Received 50.88% of the vote in 2020
Michigan 11 Haley Stevens https://haleystevensforcongress.com Received 50.2% of the vote in 2020
Minnesota 02 Angie Craig https://angiecraig.com Received 48.21% of the vote in 2020
Nevada 03 Susie Lee https://www.susieleeforcongress.com Received 48.75% of the vote in 2020
Nevada 04 Steve Horsford https://www.stevenhorsford.com Received 50.67% of the vote in 2020
New Jersey 07 Tom Malinowski https://malinowskifornj.com Received 50.61% of the vote in 2020
Texas 07 Lizzie Fletcher https://www.lizziefletcher.com Received 50.79% of the vote in 2020
Texas 15 Vicente Gonzalez http://www.vicentegonzalez.com Received 50.5% of the vote in 2020
Organizations to support as well
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) https://dccc.org
The Democratic National Committee (DNC). https://democrats.org The official organization of the Democratic Party.
Fair Fight https://fairfight.com Promotes fair elections around the country
A Special Election Coming Up
The TX 06 multi-party primary is on May 1. Jana Lynne Sanchez could use every bit of help you can provide. Getting a Democrat into the run off creates the possibility of adding to the slim Democratic majority in the current Congress and creates momentum for retaining and even expanding a Democratic majority in the next Congress. Add to Jana Lynne Sanchez’ resources https://www.janasanchez.com
A Special Interest of Mine
New York City has its own small-town politics. Many of the readers of Lenspoliticalnotes are New Yorkers. Some may live in or know people in Part A of Assembly District 76 (roughly east of 3rd Avenue and south of 79th Street to and including Roosevelt Island).
If you live in Part A of State Assembly District 76 in New York, please support and vote for Rebecca Weintraub in the June 22 Democratic Primary. If you know people who live in Part A of Assembly District 76, please encourage them to vote for her.
Our club and the other Democratic Club in District 76 are supporting Rebecca Weintraub’s candidacy to be one of four District Leaders of the 76th Assembly District — the female leader of Part A of Assembly District 76. District Leaders are a kind of liaison between political parties and the community.
You can learn more about Rebecca Weintraub at her Website www.VoteRebecca.nyc or at Twitter @RSWinNYC or at Instagram /RSW_in_NYC or at Facebook /VoteRebeccaWeintraub. In her non-political life, she is Vice President of a public relations firm, mother of Benjamin, and wife of Evan. In her political life, she has been an active member of our club, a leader in an innovative effort collecting video responses from NYC candidates for public office used to assess who to endorse and who to vote for.