Is this the end of the House of Jackson?
No sooner had the word spread Wednesday afternoon that Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) had notified House Speaker John Boehner of his resignation from Congress than the speculation commenced who what would happen to his Chicago-area House seat once it was vacant.
Even before Jackson resigned amid widespread rumor of a plea bargain agreement on alleged campaign violations than talk in Illinois political circles was of the congressman’s succession by his brother Jonathan Luther Jackson. The second son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and godson of Dr. Martin Luther King (hence his middle name), Jonathan is his father’s right hand man and spokesman at the Rainbow Coalition.
Should Jonathan follow Jesse, Jr. in the House, it would be the first time one brother succeeded another in the U.S. House of Representatives since Sam Ervin—later senator and famed as chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee—succeeded his late brother, Rep. Joseph Ervin (D-N.C.), in 1946.
But there are also reports that others within the Democratic Party resent the Jackson family treating the district as if it were its own personal fiefdom. Even if Jonathan Jackson runs for the soon-to-be-open seat other heavyweight Democrats are expected to jump in the resulting special election contest. Dr. Robin Kelly, former state legislator and now the much-respected chief administrative officer of Cook County, gets considerable mention as a candidate. So do two well-known state senators: Toi Hutchinson and Napoleon Harris, the latter famed as the linebacker for Northwestern University.
“It is my understanding from people in the community that the voters are tired of being taken for granted and the Jackson brand has been damaged,” Isaac Hayes, clergyman and 2010 Republican opponent to Jackson, told Human Events, “They feel betrayed and disappointed that a family to whom they have been exceptionally loyal would show such blatant disrespect and disregard. I believe the frustration is so intense that a well-funded Republican who was willing to work with President Obama to build common ground might actually have a slight chance of pulling an upset”
Hayes noted that Congressman Jackson normally gets about 85 percent of the vote, but (in 2012) he barely got over 60 percent. Part of it is the redrawn district that includes the more Republican leaning Will and Kankakee counties, and part an exhausted electorate seeking to go in a different direction.”
Illinois law dictates the governor must announce a special election date within five days after the vacancy occurs. The special election must be held within 115 days
In 1995, when Jackson, then 30 years old, first won his seat, he did so by overcoming two state senators with about 45 per cent of the vote. Most observers credited the win to the power and influence of his father and the family name. Whether times have changed or whether the “House of Jackson” retains its political punch will be one of the earliest and surely most intriguing stories of 2013.