In the middle of the first televised Democratic debate on CNN Tuesday night, Illinois Senate candidate Andrea Zopp aired her first TV advertisements during commercial breaks.
In the three advertisements, Zopp touts her credentials as a former crime fighter and paints herself as a powerful community leader, a mother and a hardworking great-granddaughter of a slave. In one of the ads, Zopp also plays on her underdog status, saying despite all that she's done, "you've never heard of her."
In many races, being an underdog poses a challenge, but this year the underdogs may have the advantage. With nontraditional candidates Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Bernie Sanders rising the ranks in the Republican and Democratic presidential races, Zopp, who has a heavily business background, finds herself in good company. Earlier this month, she was even included in a New York Times article about anti-establishment candidates who are gaining ground across the political board.
Despite her gains as an underdog candidate, however, Zopp has much to overcome as details of her past emerge. In light of the recent SUPES Academy scandal that left former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett with a federal indictment and a guilty plea, Zopp has also come under fire for her role in approving the $23 million no-bid contracts while she was serving on the Chicago Board of Education. Zopp's advertisements made no mention of her experience as a member of the board.
Zopp will face off against Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who has party backing, in the Democratic primary in the spring.