Progressive activist Kina Collins announced Tuesday that she is challenging Rep. Danny Davis in the 2022 Democratic primary for Illinois’ 7th Congressional District.
Collins, 30, a longtime gun violence prevention and “Medicare for All” advocate from Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, has the backing of Women’s March of Illinois and the left-wing group Justice Democrats. She is the third primary challenger that Justice Democrats is supporting this election cycle.
“The 7th Congressional District is the most diverse district in Illinois, yet we have some of the greatest disparities in the country,” Collins told HuffPost. “The residents in our district deserve a fighter. We deserve livable wages, school zones and neighborhoods free of gun violence and full access to quality health care.”
“I also believe that we cannot move forward with business as usual,” she added. “Congressman Davis has been in Congress for 24 years. While certain portions of our district have flourished, other parts of our district ― like the South Side and West Side of Chicago ― have been left behind.”
Davis, 79, has indeed represented Chicago’s West Side since 1997. The veteran lawmaker has a relatively progressive record in Congress. He voted against the Iraq War in 2002 and is a co-sponsor of Medicare for All legislation.
His seniority has also earned him considerable influence in the lawmaking process. Davis chairs the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee of the influential House Ways and Means Committee, which writes laws related to taxing and spending.
Notwithstanding his overall ideological leanings, though, Collins believes that Davis has not used his power to agitate for change aggressively enough. And she points to his reliance on contributions from corporate political action committees as a sign that he lacks the conviction to lead.
“At this crucial moment in American democracy, we need urgent leadership and intentional advocacy,” she said. “And we need someone with a strong moral compass to go to Congress and take on the pharmaceutical companies, take on private insurance, take on Big Oil in this country and really advocate for front-line communities. I know that I can do that.”
Collins is an organizer for Physicians for a National Health Program, which fights for the adoption of a single-payer health care system.
If elected, she also plans to make curbing gun violence through tougher national gun regulations an area of focus. Collins entered political activism as a child after witnessing a young peer shot dead in front of her.
She supports improving the wraparound mental health and medical care services needed by survivors of gun violence, and making it easier for states like Illinois that choose to impose tough rules on handguns to stem the flow of handguns from neighboring states.
Collins does not support using more aggressive policing to combat gun violence.
“More policing is not going to solve this problem because in Chicago, 10 of the neighborhoods that account for 50% of the gun violence are some of the most heavily policed areas in our district. And yet we still see everyday gun violence on the uptick,” she said. “For me, that means we have to strike at the root causes of this gun violence and that means making it survivor-led and victim-centered.”
Collins ran against Davis in 2020 as well, receiving a distant 13.8% of the vote to Davis’ 61.4%.
But Collins outperformed Davis’ other two Democratic challengers, even though they both raised more money than her.
And now she will have the support of the Justice Democrats, a scrappy upstart feared for its success ousting five Democratic House incumbents since 2018.
One of those wins was in the Chicago area. In 2020, Marie Newman unseated then-Rep. Dan Lipinski, a conservative Democrat, in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District.