Is this the last hurrah for Jesse Jackson Jr.?
Could the Democratic House Member from Illinois with by far the best known name go down to defeat Tuesday night? Could the once-promising career of Jesse Jackson, Jr. be finished—at the hands of fellow Democrats, no less?
Along with the Republican presidential primary, one of the biggest political stories of March 20 will certainly be the fate of the young Jackson, who faces a strong primary challenge from former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 20 percent), who lost her Will County-based seat two years ago to Republican Adam Kinzinger.
The race between the former congresswoman and the namesake-son of the civil rights icon has recently taken on a new dimension. The Houston-based Committee for Public Accountability has unleashed a string of radio spots focusing on what spokesman Curtis Ellis dubbed “Rep. Jackson’s ethical issues.”
“Our polling showed that his unfavorable ratings were high and ethical issues were particularly affecting him,” Eliis told HUMAN EVENTS, adding that his group (which was profiled in the Wall Street Journal Monday) has spent about $88,000 on anti-Jackson salvos.
The “ethical issues” that are fueling Public Accountability’s strike against Jackson are all related to the ongoing House ethics investigation of the congressman on charges he attempted to secure appointment to Obama’s former Senate seat through offering money to disgraced former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Jackson, while freely admitting he wanted to serve in the Senate, has heatedly denied any wrongdoing or even hints of cash offers to Blagojevich.
The congressional redistricting process also works against Jackson. The new 2nd District differs sharply from the old one he has represented in that it is not just inner-city Chicago but now includes large parts of the old 11th District (Will County) formerly represented by Halvorson. Moreover, in the Chicago portion of the 2nd, as veteran Chicago political pundit Russ Stewart noted, “a lot of black ministers have spurned Jackson, citing personal and legal ethical issues.”
The congressman is working harder than he ever has to win a race that, whatever its outcome, will be national news.