Who will replace Jesse Jackson Jr? Special election announced for congressional seat

theGRIO REPORT - Illinois 2nd Congressional District residents will soon return to the polls to elect a new representative, after Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned last week...

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Illinois 2nd Congressional District residents will soon return to the polls to elect a new representative, after Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned last week.

Governor Pat Quinn issued writs of elections Monday setting a special primary election for Feb. 26, 2013, that will coincide with existing local primary elections.

He also set a general election date of March 19 to comply with current law requiring the special election to be held within 115 days. However, Quinn is working with the Illinois legislature to move the general election date to April 9, the already-scheduled local general elections. This will require a change in statute.

According to a report from ABC News, the congressman’s departure and the special election to replace him could cost taxpayers roughly $5.1 million, but Quinn is trying to keep costs as low as possible.

“This special election will be carried out in a manner that is fair to the electorate and as economical as possible for taxpayers,” Quinn said Monday in a statement. “By holding the special primary and general elections on the same days as existing contests, we can save significant taxpayer dollars and ensure the people of the 2nd District can make their voices heard.”

Jackson Jr., who had been on medical leave since early June, resigned in a letter to house speaker John Boehner last week.

“My health issues and treatment regimen have become incompatible with service in the House of Representatives. Therefore, it is with great regret that I hereby resign … effective today, in order to focus on restoring my health,” Jackson Jr. wrote in a two-page letter to Boehner. Jackson had been in and out of the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic twice since his leave and received treatment in Washington, D.C., as well.

Addressing an FBI probe into possible misuse of campaign finances, Jackson in the letter admitted to his “share of mistakes,” saying: “I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone.”

Since Jackson Jr.’s resignation, many 2nd Congressional hopefuls have thrown their hat in the ring. Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-11th), who lost the Democratic primary election in March when Jackson Jr. grabbed 71 percent of the votes, announced her candidacy.

Known as Chicago’s “Rooftop Preacher,” Pastor Corey Brooks is considering running for Jackson Jr.’s seat. “The same issues that a lot of people are facing — the economy, education, violence — those issues are issues that need to be addressed in a lot of the districts,” Brooks told NBC Chicago. “Plus I want to help support the president’s agenda, and if I could do that then I’ll definitely get in the race, but I haven’t decided yet,” he said.

Sam Adam Jr., the attorney who represented former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said he’d like a shot at Jackson Jr.’s seat. “To be honest, I would love it because I look at it as the ultimate voice for the voiceless,” he told NBC Chicago before Jackson Jr. had even resigned.

Others have lined up to be considered in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District. The list includes State Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields, Ald. Will Burns, Ald. Anthony Beale, Sen. Kwame Raoul, former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, Mel Reynolds and Jackson’s wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson. Additionally, Independent Marcus Lewis, who ran against Jackson Jr. during the general election, announced his candidacy last week.

Renita D. Young is a Chicago-based multimedia journalist. Follow her on Twitter @RenitaDYoung.