Illinois Candidates showcase Arab American breakfast event Sunday Feb 18
More than a dozen Democratic candidates vying for contested races in the March 20 Illinois primary election have confirmed their appearances at the annual Candidate’s Breakfast hosted by the state’s largest Arab American political organization.
The Arab American Democratic Club will host candidates running for a wide range of offices from congress to governor at the breakfast which will be held at Niko’s Banquet Hall at 76th and Harlem Avenue on Sunday February 18 beginning at 10 am.
AADC Executive Director Samir Khalil said that Arab American voters is expected to reach its highest level of involvement in the election, noting that more than 550 people have confirmed their attendance for the breakfast banquet.
“Arab Americans are an important voting block but in the past they have been taken for granted,” Khalil said.
“That has changed. Over the last few years, more and more Arab Americans have registered to vote and are expressing their preferences in local elections.”
Khalil said that the majority of Arabs in the Chicagoland area are Democratic, noting some do vote Republican.
“The Arab American Democratic Club is the strongest and most active voice of Chicagoland’s Arab American voters. This year, through candidate’s forums we hosted in which all of the candidates were invited to speak to our community, the community has come together to make several key endorsements in the upcoming election,” Khalil said.
“The Arab American Democratic Club has enthusiastically endorsed Christopher Kennedy for Governor. We invited all of the candidates to speak to us but Kennedy’s platform, his expression of concern for the interests of Arab Americans has resonated with our community.”
Khalil said the group approached all of the candidates but only J.B. Pritzker declined to appear before the group.
“We wanted to address our concerns, as we did with Kennedy and others but Pritzker refused,” Khalil said.
“We understand. But we believe that Kennedy’s commitment to support for the rights of Arab Americans moving forward is critical. And, his promise to keep his door open to our community to discuss all of our concerns is something that is extremely important to our community.”
There are about 450,000 Arab Americans living in the six county Chicagoland region with an estimated 80,000 Arab Americans who are registered to vote in Cook County, mainly in the Southwest Suburban region.
Among candidates confirmed to attend the AADC Candidate Brunch are: Christopher Kennedy (Illinois Governor), Patrick Quinn (Illinois Attorney General), Jesus Garcia (4th District Congress), Congressman Dan Lipinski (3rd District), Congressman Danny Davis, Marie Newman (3rd District Congress), Debra Shore (Water Reclamation District).
Also attending will be several Judges and candidates for judicial office.
Candidates and speakers will be introduced by AADC Officer Miriam Zayed, who herself ran for the school district board in District 230 in the 1990s and has been active in registering American Arabs to vote in local, state and national elections.
The keynote speaker of the event is Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and a longtime Democratic Party activist, delegate and presidential adviser. Detroit comedian Amer Zahr will entertain. Closing remarks will be present by newspaper political columnist and former Chicago City Hall reporter Ray Hanania.
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Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
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His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.
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