Robin Kelly (D-IL): The Master of ‘Popcorn Diplomacy’

February 26, 2018

In November 2010, Robin Kelly’s career was at a crossroads. She had just been defeated in the race to become Illinois state treasurer. She is not the sort to lose elections. She beat a ten-year incumbent to win a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, and by the time of her third term, ran unopposed. In 2007 she resigned her seat to become chief of staff to the Illinois state treasurer and then became Chief Administrative Officer for the president of Cook County (Chicago). Not one to look backwards, after her defeat, Kelly says, “I thought ‘God must have another plan,’ and I jumped on a plane to Miami.” A little more than two years later, Kelly won the majority of the vote in a 16-candidate field in the Democratic primary in Illinois 2nd Congressional district, which includes Chicago’s far southeast side as well as some suburbs. An ardent proponent of gun control, “I’m that steady voice you cannot quiet,” she is also famous for handing out bags of Chicago’s Garrett popcorn to her colleagues, Democrat and Republican, on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.