Names surface for Jackson Jr.'s seat

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s resignation from Congress leaves his seat in Illinois's 2nd District open for a special election, and local Democrats are already considering names.

A top option would be Debbie Halvorson, who represented Illinois's 11th District for one term, from 2009-11, and lost her bid against Jackson this year when he picked up over 70 percent of the vote in the primary.

Halvorson said in an email to The Hill that she has "not yet decided what I'm going to do," but indicated she's been asked to jump in the race.

"My phone has been ringting [sic] off the hook, and I have been getting messages from people every way they can get them to me that I need to run," she said, adding "I hope to make my decision soon."

Another previous Jackson opponent, Mel Reynolds, who held Jackson's seat from 1993-95 before him, is a possible contender, according to the Chicago Tribune. Reynolds, however, was convicted for sexual assault and bank fraud in the 90s, and lost his primary bid against Jackson in 2004.

The Chicago Sun Times also reported that former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is considering a run, but Stroger lives outside the district and faced criticism as board president for raising taxes and promoting a family member. He also had a relatively close race against his Republican challenger, despite running in a heavily Democratic county, and came in last in the Democratic primary for the position in 2010.

Other names suggested by the Tribune include state Sens. Toi Hutchinson and Donne Trotter, incoming state Sen. Napoleon Harris, Alds. Anthony Beale from the 9th ward and Will Burns from the 4th ward, former state Reps. David Mille and Robin Kelly, and Sam Adam, Jr., former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attorney.

Jackson announced his resignation in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last Wednesday, in which he said that his deteriorating health made it impossible for him to return to work. He has spent much of the past six months away from Congress, receiving treatment for severe bipolar disorder.

He is also currently under federal investigation for alleged misuse of campaign funds.

Despite the investigation and his illness, however, Jackson easily defeated his Republican challenger on Election Day and was reelected to his seat with 63 percent of the vote.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn must set a date for the election on Monday, but by law, the election must take place within 115 days of Jackson's resignation, or no later than March 16.

Local officials have been pushing to make the special election to be held on April 9, with a primary held on Feb. 26, as there are already elections scheduled for those days.

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