Janice Danoff Schakowsky (/ʃəˈkski/ shə-KOW-skee; born May 26, 1944) is an American politician who has served as the U.S. Representative from Illinois’s 9th congressional district since 1999. She is a member of the Democratic Party.

The district is anchored in Chicago’s North Side, including much of the area bordering Lake Michigan. It also includes many of Chicago’s northern suburbs, including Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Mount Prospect, Niles, Park Ridge, Rosemont, Skokie, Wilmette, and Winnetka, as of the decennial redistricting following the 2010 United States Census.[1]

Early life and education

Schakowsky was born Janice Danoff in 1944 in Chicago, the daughter of Tillie (née Cosnow) and Irwin Danoff.[2] Her parents were Jewish immigrants, her father a Lithuanian Jew and her mother from Russia.[2][3]

Schakowsky graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education where she was a member of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority.[4]

Early career

She was Program Director of Illinois Public Action, Illinois’ largest public interest group, from 1976 to 1985. She then moved to the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens as executive director for five years until 1990, when she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. She served there until 1998.[5]

In 1986, Schakowsky ran in the election to be a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners from suburban Cook County. While successful in winning the primary to be one of the Democratic Party’s nominees, she failed to win election in the general election.[6][7]

In 1990, Schakowsky was elected to serve in the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the fourth district. She was redistricted in 1992 to the eighteenth district.

U.S. House of Representatives

Election to House, 1998

Sidney Yates, who had represented the 9th District since 1949 (except for an unsuccessful run for the Senate in 1962), had announced in 1996 that he would not run for re-election in 1998.[citation needed] Schakowsky easily won the Democratic primary, which all but assured her of election in the heavily Democratic 9th. She beat out then-Illinois State Senator Howard W. Carroll and future-Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker in the primary (who finished second and third, respectively). She won in November with 75 percent of the vote and has been reelected 12 more times with no substantive opposition, including four times with 70 percent or more of the vote. She is only the third person to represent the district since 1949.[citation needed]

Tenure

Schakowsky is among the most Progressive members of the current U.S. Congress.[8] She is a senior member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus[citation needed] and frequently earns ratings of between 90 and 100 from liberal and progressive interest groups.[citation needed]

Consideration for Vice President in 2004 election

The Nation endorsed her for vice president in the 2004 United States presidential election, stating that she is “the truest heir to Paul Wellstone in the current Congress”.[9] She was, however, not selected as John Kerry‘s running mate.

Objection to the 2004 Presidential Election results

Schakowsky was one of thirty-one House Democrats who voted to not count the 20 electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.[10] President George W. Bush won Ohio by 118,457 votes.[11] Without Ohio’s electoral votes, the election would have been decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, with each state having one vote in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Support for Obama economic plan

In April 2009, Schakowsky pointedly criticized the tax day Tea Party protests, asserting that they were ”an effort to mislead the public about the Obama economic plan that cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans and creates 3.5 million jobs…. It’s despicable that right-wing Republicans would attempt to cheapen a significant, honorable moment of American history with a shameful political stunt.”[12]

Women’s issues

Schakowsky with Kamala Harris

As co-chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, Schakowsky has been known for her support of women’s issues while in Congress.[13]

Opposition to Iraq War

Schakowsky was outspoken in her opposition to the Iraq War. She was one of the earliest and most emphatic supporters of U.S. Senator Barack Obama prior to his victory in the 2004 Illinois Democratic primary election, and actively supported his bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.[14] She introduced the Iraq and Afghanistan Contractor Sunshine Act (H.R. 897) as a bill in the House of Representatives on 7 February 2007 seeking information from leading federal agencies on their contracts for work in Iraq and Afghanistan.[15] The bill was not subsequently enacted.

Climate change

In hearings held by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee in July 2006, Schakowsky expressed concern that a report from the National Academy of Sciences showing discrepancies among scientists studying global warming might be “used in a way to discredit the whole notion that our country and the rest of the industrialized and developing world ought to do anything about global warming”.[16]

Angling for elevation

Schakowsky indicated interest in replacing Barack Obama in the United States Senate.[17] Before his arrest, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had reportedly been considering Schakowsky among at least six candidates to fill the vacancy. Schakowsky was one of the first figures in Illinois to voice interest in running in a special election to replace Obama.[18]

Support for public option

In April 2009, she stated her support for a public option in health insurance, arguing that it would put health insurance companies out of business and lead to single-payer health care, which she supports.[19]

Critique and apology for Joel Pollak

In March 2015, Schakowsky was criticized by the Orthodox Union after saying that Jewish politician Joel Pollak was a “Jewish, Orthodox, Tea Party Republican” at a J Street event. She later apologized for her comments.[20][21]

Support for LGBT rights

In 2015, Schakowsky was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community.[22] In February 2021 she voted yes on the Equality Act on behalf of her transgender grandson, Isaac.[23]

Boycott of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress

In March 2015, Schakowsky did not attend the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu‘s speech to Congress because, she wrote in the Huffington Post, it could scuttle delicate negotiations with Iran: “The prime minister wants the negotiations to end, and his purpose in speaking to the Congress is to convince us that the president is about to agree to a deal that threatens Israel’s existence. He believes the president is naïve in thinking that he and the P5+1 can achieve any agreement that will stop Iran from rushing toward a bomb … What is the alternative to an agreement? Yes, the United States will increase sanctions. But does anyone doubt that Iran will build a nuclear weapon regardless of sanctions? Then the choices will be ugly: accepting a nuclear-weaponized Iran or accepting military action (i.e., war with Iran). For me it’s obvious that we must give the negotiations a chance. And, in the meantime, Iran has essentially halted its weapons program under the Joint Plan of Action while the talks are ongoing.”[24][third-party source needed]

Product safety issues

Schakowsky in 2013.

Schakowsky has long taken substantial interest in product safety issues and has persistently engaged in robust oversight of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. She has often been critical of Republicans on the commission.[25]

Support of Assyrian issues

Schakowsky has been a proponent of numerous initiatives pertaining to ethnic Assyrians.[26] According to Assyrian American activist Atour Sargon, Schakowsky was an early supporter of her ideas and encouraged her to pursue a political career as early as 2017. She claimed that Schakowsky would later assist her during her successful 2019 Trustee campaign in Lincolnwood, Illinois.[27][28]

During the 2017 confirmation hearings of then-Secretary of State appointee Rex Tillerson, Schakowsky criticized his support of policies that she alleged were detrimental towards the future of Assyrian existence in Iraq.[29][30][31][32]

Schakowsky was a speaker at the 2018[33] and 2020 Democratic Candidates’ Forum organized by Vote Assyrian. At the 2020 forum, Schakowsky referred to Assyrians as, “one of the fastest growing communities in terms of political involvement.”[26]

On August 7, 2020, Schakowsky released a statement recognizing the anniversary of the 1933 Simele massacre.[34][35] She is also a proponent of House Resolution 537, which would have the federal government officially recgonize the Assyrian genocide if passed.[28]

Throughout her congressional tenure, Schakowsky has also supported and co-sponsored several bills that, if passed, would extend U.S. support for Assyrian self-governance in Iraq, particularly in the Nineveh Plains region.[36][37]

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

On October 1, 2020, Schakowsky co-signed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that condemned Azerbaijan’s offensive operations against the Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, denounced Turkey’s role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and called for an immediate ceasefire.[38]

Committee assignments

Schakowsky with Elizabeth Warren

Party leadership and caucus memberships

Electoral history

Cook County Board of Commissioners (suburban Cook County)

1986
1986 Cook County Board of Commissioners suburban Cook County Democratic primary[6]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Joan P. Murphy 75,981 13.85
Democratic Janice D. “Jan” Schakowsky 72,315 13.18
Democratic Kevin J. Conlon 71,012 12.94
Democratic John D. Rita 70,835 12.91
Democratic Andrew “Andy” Przybylo 67,167 12.24
Democratic Renee H. Thaler 67,072 12.22
Democratic John J. Lattner 62,287 11.35
DemocraticEdward J. King62,01511.30
1986 Cook County Board of Commissioners suburban Cook County election[7][44]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Republican Mary M. McDonald (incumbent) 339,214 9.08
Republican Joseph D. Mathewson 336,097 9.00
Republican Harold L. Tyrrell (incumbent) 317,481 8.50
Republican Carl R. Hansen (incumbent) 314,145 8.41
Republican (incumbent) 310,800 8.32
Republican (incumbent) 303,068 8.11
Republican Robert P. Gooley 269,438 7.21
DemocraticJoan P. Murphy262,6997.03
DemocraticJanice D. “Jan” Schakowsky239,5176.41
DemocraticJohn J. Lattner229,3526.14
DemocraticKevin J. Conlon216,3945.79
DemocraticAndrew “Andy” Przybylo209,5035.61
DemocraticJohn D. Rita198,4035.31
DemocraticRenee H. Thaler189,3445.07

Illinois House

1990
1990 Illinois House of Representatives 4th district Democratic primary[45]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. “Jan” Schakowsky 7,454 54.62
DemocraticJonathan K. Baum6,19243.37
1990 Illinois House of Representatives 4th district election[46]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. “Jan” Schakowsky 17,072 63.58
RepublicanJoan W. Barr9,77736.41
1992
1992 Illinois House of Representatives 18th district Democratic primary[47]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. “Jan” Schakowsky (redistricted incumbent) 14,002 100
1992 Illinois House of Representatives 18th district election[48]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. “Jan” Schakowsky (redistricted incumbent) 30,413 78.51
RepublicanBruce W. Haffner7,54219.47
LibertarianTheodore C. Beckman7792.01
1994
1994 Illinois House of Representatives 18th district Democratic primary[49]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 9,587 100
1994 Illinois House of Representatives 18th district election[50]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 17,159 78.27
RepublicanVernon J. Grubisich4,76219.47
1996
1996 Illinois House of Representatives 18th district Democratic primary[51]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. “Jan” Schakowsky (incumbent) 7,533 100
1996 Illinois House of Representatives 18th district election[52]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 26,910 83.40
RepublicanEdward M. Potash5,35316.59

U.S. House

1998
1998 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[53]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. “Jan” Schakowsky 31,443 45.14
DemocraticHoward W. Carroll23,96334.40
DemocraticJay “J.B.” Pritzker14,25620.46
Total votes69,662 100
1998 Illinois 9th congressional district election[54]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. “Jan” Schakowsky 107,878 74.60
RepublicanHerbert Sohn33,44823.13
LibertarianMichael D. Ray3,2842.27
Total votes144,610 100.0
2000
2000 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Jan Schakowsky (incumbent) 49,429 100
Total votes49,429 100
2000 Illinois 9th congressional district election[56]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Jan Schakowsky (incumbent) 147,002 76.43
RepublicanDennis J. Driscoll45,34423.57
Total votes192,346 100.0
2002
2002 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 69,020 100
Total votes69,020 100
2002 Illinois 9th Congressional District election[57]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 118,642 70.27
RepublicanNicholas M. Duric45,30726.83
LibertarianStephanie “Vs. The Machine” Sailor4,8872.89
Total votes168,836 100.0
2004
2004 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 70,736 100
Total votes70,736 100
2004 Illinois 9th congressional district election[58]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 175,282 75.74
RepublicanKurt J. Eckhardt56,13524.26
Total votes231,417 100.0
2006
2006 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 57,490 100
Total votes57,490 100
2006 Illinois 9th congressional district election[59]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 122,852 74.59
RepublicanMichael P. Shannon41,85825.41
Write-in votesSimon Michael Ribeiro30.00
Total votes164,713 100.0
2008
Illinois 9th Congressional District Democratic Primary, 2008[60]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 98,374 87.66
DemocraticJohn Nocita13,48512.02
Total votes112,219 100.0
Illinois 9th Congressional District General Election, 2008[61]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 181,948 74.66
RepublicanMichael Benjamin Younan53,59321.99
GreenMorris Shanfield8,1403.34
Write-in votesSusanne Atanus130.01
Total votes243,694 100.0
2010
2010 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 62,763 100
Total votes62,763 100
2010 Illinois 9th congressional district election[62]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 117,553 66.34
RepublicanJoel Barry Pollak55,18231.14
GreenSimon Ribeiro4,4722.52
Total votes177,207 100.0
2012
2012 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[63]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 48,124 91.85
DemocraticSimon Ribeiro4,2708.15
Total votes52,394 100.0
2012 Illinois 9th congressional district election[64]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 194,869 66.33
RepublicanTimothy C Wolfe98,92433.67
Write-in votesHilaire Fuji Shioura80.00
Write-in votesSusanne Atanus60.00
Total votes293,807 100.0
2014
2014 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 31,576 100
Total votes31,576 100
2014 Illinois 9th congressional district election[65]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 141,000 66.06
RepublicanSusanne Atanus72,83433.91
Write-in votesPhil Collins660.03
Total votes213,450 100.0
2016
2016 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 134,961 100
Total votes134,961 100
2016 Illinois 9th congressional district election[66]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 217,306 66.47
RepublicanJoan McCarthy Lasonde109,55033.51
Write-in votesDavid Williams790.02
Write-in votesSusanne Atanus130.00
Total votes326,948 100.0
2018
2018 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 108,417 100
Total votes108,417 100
2018 Illinois 9th congressional District election[67]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 213,368 73.49
RepublicanJohn D. Elleson76,98326.51
Total votes290,351 100.0
2020
2020 Illinois 9th congressional district Democratic primary[55]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 127,467 99.72
DemocraticAndrew Heldut (write-in)3550.03
Total votes127,822 100
2020 Illinois 9th congressional District
election [68]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic Janice D. Schakowsky (incumbent) 262,045 70.98
RepublicanSargis Sangari107,12529.02
Total votes369,170 100.0

Personal life

Schakowsky lives in Evanston, Illinois with her husband Robert Creamer. She has two children and one stepchild.[69]

In 2005, Schakowsky’s husband pleaded guilty to failure to collect withholding tax and to bank fraud for writing checks with insufficient funds. All of the money was repaid. Schakowsky was not accused of any wrongdoing.[70] While Schakowsky served on the organization’s board during the time the crimes occurred,[71] and she signed the IRS filings along with her husband,[72] the U.S. district judge noted that no one suffered “out of pocket losses“, and Creamer acted not out of greed but in an effort to keep his community action group going without cutting programs, though Creamer paid his own $100,000 salary with fraudulently obtained funds. Creamer served five months in prison. “Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Ferguson said the government doesn’t believe Creamer “acknowledged the seriousness of his conduct.” “At the end of the day,” Ferguson said, “Robert Creamer is guilty of multiple crimes and is going to jail for it.”[73]

See also

References

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  71. ^ Flannery, Mike (April 5, 2006). “Congresswoman’s Husband Gets Jail Time For Bank Fraud”. WBBM TV.
  72. ^ Newbart, Dave (March 12, 2004). “Schakowsky’s husband indicted in bank fraud”. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  73. ^ Korecki, Natasha (April 6, 2006). “Schakowsky’s husband given 5 months for check-kiting: Prosecutors sought 3 years for bank fraud that aided nonprofit”. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 26, 2009.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sidney Yates
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois’s 9th congressional district

1999–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Lois Capps
Chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Cynthia Lummis
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Lewis
House Democratic Senior Chief Deputy Whip
2019–present
Served alongside: Cedric Richmond (Assistant to the Majority Whip, 2019–2021); John Lewis, G. K. Butterfield
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Grace Napolitano
United States representatives by seniority
48th
Succeeded by
Mike Simpson