Welcome to my diary series titled Majority Savers! I will run a new article every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. The goal of this series is to highlight races that may make or break our current slender majorities in Congress. That means I will start more with incumbent Senators and House members until some primary elections are settled. If I have time, I will expand it to governors as well in critical swing states.
If you want to find my previous entries in this series, I recommend following me or searching for Majority Savers as a tag!
I have six ground rules behind the philosophy of this series. I’d ask you all to respect them as best you can, because these are taking me quite a long time to write. Here are my ground rules.
This incumbent member of Congress ousted a Republican during the 2018 blue wave election and hung on by the skin of her teeth in 2020. During redistricting, the Illinois Democratic Party made her district a little safer, but she will still be vulnerable in 2022. Today, Majority Savers highlights Rep. Lauren Underwood of the 14th district of Illinois!
As much as I would like to write a biography of this amazing black woman, this thread is long enough without me doing so. You’ll have to settle with this link to learn more about Rep. Underwood.
- She went to nursing school the the University of Michigan. While there, she joined Alpha Kappa Alpha, which is a historically black sorority. As a freshman, she took a nursing politics class that changed the trajectory of her entire life and combined her interests in nursing and politics. She received a master’s degree in nursing from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in 2009.
- Underwood worked for the Obama administration in the HHS Department, and her work involved implementing the ACA. When TFG came to power, she went to the private sector and became a Senior Director for Next Level Health.
- After getting elected in 2018, she became the youngest black woman to be elected into Congress. She joined the CBC and continues to hold down a swing seat in spite of being unabashedly progressive on the issues. She was featured in TIME Magazine 100 in 2019.
Rep. Lauren Underwood is one of the most progressive members of the House of Representatives. Her DW Nominate score is -0.533, which puts her as more liberal than 94% of the combined membership of the House. She is also more liberal than 89% of the Democratic caucus in the House. This is an amazing record for someone from a swing district, though DW Nominate has problems with tracking “NO” votes coming from the left.
Health Care: Rep. Underwood has supported single payer/Medicare for All as long as a funding mechanism can be found for it. Her whole reason for going into politics was the attempts at unraveling the ACA. She is pro-choice as well! Finally, she supports paid family leave, which could actually lead to the higher birthrate the fascists claim that they want. She is also a champion of maternal health — especially black maternal health.
Gun Safety: Underwood helped secure $25 million to study gun violence as a public health issue in the first federal funding for such studies in decades. She consistently supports gun safety measures such as a ban on bump stocks and universal background checks to close loopholes in gun safety policy. She also is pushing bills that help veterans who are at risk of committing suicide due to PTSD.
Climate Change: She has consistently supported legislation that would address our worsening climate, including a plan that would phase out fossil fuels by 2050 (too late for the planet, but she cannot say that). She has also been aggressive at preventing climate scientists from being silenced by TFG regime and by the USDA.
Recent Elections —
2020 President: Joe Biden 54.7%, TFG (R-inc) 43.3%
2020 House: Lauren Underwood (D-inc) 50.7%, Jim Oberweis (R) 49.3%
2022 Election Rating: Leans Democratic
2022 PVI: D+4
This district used to be the home turf of pedophile Speaker Dennis Hastert. That shows that the district has Republican roots going back a very long time, similar with the other districts found in the suburbs of Chicago and in central Illinois. The Democratic Party was moribund in this area for a very long time. That all changed when Speaker Hastert resigned in late 2007 when it was clear that he had lost the House and was not getting it back in the GW Bush era.
In the Obama era, this district acted like a swing seat, with a shock special election in early 2008 leading to Rep. Bill Foster winning the seat. Foster fell in the 2010 red wave, and Randy Hultgren became the person to represent these swingy areas for most of the decade. This was affirmed when Democrats changed his district from one that Obama won in 2008 to one that Romney carried in 2012.
This district hurriedly changed allegiances during the Trump era in spite of being drawn as a GOP vote sink. The old 14th district (before being modified in 2020 redistricting) went for TFG, but only by a 49-45 margin in 2016. That created an opening during the 2018 blue wave, which Lauren Underwood took advantage of and won. She barely survived her 2020 re-election as Biden barely won the old 14th district 50-48 during the 2020 presidential election.
Political Tour of the District
This district is anchored by the western and southwestern exurbs of the very large Chicago metro area. Portions of Joliet, Naperville, and Aurora are anchors of the district and supply most of the population. The growing exurb of DeKalb is also included within the boundaries of the district. Finally, the district stretches into Illinois to take in its fair share of farmland and more rural precincts to make sure that the population of the district is equal to all of the others. What makes this district important is the fact that it has black representation in spite of being 58.8% white majority.
Here’s where this race will be won in the 14th district.
- Joliet: This is the Democratic anchor of the entire district, where many minority precincts that vote deeply Democratic can be found. Rep. Underwood is new to these constituents, but she will have to introduce herself and work hard to make sure this portion of the district turns out at a higher pace than more rural portions of the district.
- Aurora and Naperville: These cities are only partially in the district, but the precincts (especially in Aurora) are critical to the re-election prospects of Underwood. Aurora contains more minority precincts, and Naperville also now votes consistently for Democratic candidates. This is the home base of the incumbent, and she needs her home base to turn out for her.
- DeKalb: This far flung exurban enclave of Chicago is growing quite rapidly, and as it grows it continues to trend in the Democratic direction, leading the entire county to be a light blue hue. Underwood must match previous performances in this city to stand a chance of staying in office in 2022 and beyond.
Here’s where we need to keep the margins down, or we lose.
- Exurban Chicago: Many of the other exurbs of Chicago, best represented by Kendall County, are a very light shade of blue and can be considered swing areas in the district. Their allegiance to our cause started in the Trump era, and they can easily swing back in 2022. Underwood doesn’t have to win these areas, but she must keep them competitive in order to win.
- Farm Country: While there are small towns out in the boondocks with a light blue hue, most of this territory is Republican in character as it contains much rural farmland. This is best represented by LaSalle County, which supported TFG heavily. Underwood must scrape what votes she can from this area and hope that the GOP voters do not turn out at a heavier rate.
Activism — Help How You Can!
In Quarter 1 of 2022, Rep. Lauren Underwood raised a healthy $763k, which means she is expecting a heavily contested election once more. None of her GOP rivals has raised much yet, but that will likely change once the primary is settled and dark money comes for such an unabashed progressive. The Chicago media market is very expensive, and Underwood seems well on her way to affording it.
Underwood also has a fairly healthy $2.36 MILLION cash on hand, which will be very handy when it gets closer to election season. None of her potential opposition has raised much to date, which is a good sign for her prospects in the fall. If you are a fan of Rep. Underwood, go ahead and donate below! Let’s show our support!
DONATE TO REP. LAUREN UNDERWOOD HERE!
If you are in the Chicago area, this campaign is a wonderful opportunity to volunteer for. You can sign up to canvass or phone bank/text bank by travelling to her campaign site, which is https://underwoodforcongress.com/.
If you aren’t willing to go the distance and commit to donating or volunteering, you can follow Rep. Underwood on social media. She has 121.1k followers (including me before this series!) on Twitter, which is very healthy for an individual representative. She’s quite popular, but we can boost her numbers even more!
If Facebook is more your style, go ahead and follow her at underwoodforcongress. She also has an Instagram page, which can be found at laurenaunderwood.
Thank you for supporting Rep. Lauren Underwood by reading this article! Next time will be spent in reflection of the candidates I have already written about. It will also ask for ideas to make this series better in the future as we get closer to the election and (hopefully) more people begin to read the series!