City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin lays groundwork for challenging U.S. Rep. Danny Davis in 2024

Little more than a month after winning reelection unopposed for Chicago city treasurer, Melissa Conyears-Ervin announced Tuesday the creation of an exploratory committee to challenge 26-year incumbent Danny Davis in the West and South Side 7th Congressional District Democratic primary next year.

“I’ve lived in this district my entire life and I understand the bold leadership that is needed to breathe new life into our communities,” the two-term city treasurer said in a statement. “We all deserve a quality education, economic opportunities, and a safe neighborhood — no matter where we are born. It’s been my mission to serve, and I am ready to put myself forward.”

In her statement, Conyears-Ervin was careful not to criticize Davis, who has served in Congress since 1997, saying he had served “ably.” She also referenced speculation about his political future by saying that “whenever he should choose to retire, I will be running to succeed him and continue his legacy of service.”

But a Conyears-Ervin aide confirmed that she was planning a March 2024 primary bid, regardless of whether Davis seeks reelection.

Davis’ campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

A bid by the 47-year-old Conyears-Ervin would represent a second potentially tough generational challenge to the 81-year-old Davis. Last year, Davis survived a primary contest against activist Kina Collins, 32, winning with 52.2% of the vote, a margin of about 4,500 votes. Two years early he swamped Collins in the primary by more than 61,000 votes.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis speaks about his endorsement of then-mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson in the Loop on March 6, 2023.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis speaks about his endorsement of then-mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson in the Loop on March 6, 2023. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Conyears-Ervin, who is married to Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th, served one term in the Illinois House before defeating former Ald. Ameya Pawar with 59% of the vote in the 2019 runoff election for city treasurer.

Both Ervins were allies of Mayor Lori Lightfoot before shifting their allegiance to Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson. She was named an inaugural chair to Johnson’s transition team.

Her tenure as city treasurer has not been without controversy. In 2021, Lightfoot’s administration agreed to pay $100,000 to settle whistleblower complaints by employees of Conyears-Ervin’s office who alleged they were fired for refusing to participate in alleged illegal and unethical conduct.

Conyears-Ervin has maintained the allegations of misconduct in her office are false, and said she fired the employees because she wanted to take the office in a different direction.

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April 18, 2023 at 03:46PM

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