Jesse Jackson Jr. Revs Up Congressional Race

In her column at the Chicago Sun-Times, Laura S. Washington says that the 16-year incumbent is facing his first real challenge, thanks to the Rod Blagojevich scandal.

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U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In her Chicago Sun-Times column, Laura S. Washington checks in on the heated Illinois congressional race between Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and challenger Debbie Halvorson. Washington says that Jackson is facing his first serious challenge in 16 years, thanks to an investigation into whether he or a representative offered to raise $1.5 million in exchange for President Obama's former Senate seat.

No need for caffeine in her pomegranate tea. Debbie Halvorson was already plenty pumped over her bid to knock off U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in the March 20 Democratic primary.

We met recently at a downtown tea parlor as Halvorson laid out her strategy for unseating Jackson in his newly redrawn 2nd Congressional District, which spans from Jackson’s base on Chicago’s South Side, to the south suburbs, into Will and Kankakee counties: “I’m getting around to everywhere.”

Since October, she has been hitting the churches, barber and beauty shops and diners in the 7th, 9th and 10th wards. That’s new territory for Halvorson, of south suburban Crete. She had previously represented some of the newest portions of the 2nd District before she lost her own congressional seat in 2008.

“People are very, very upset that they’ve been underserved. And that Jesse has been in hiding, basically, for the last three years.”

Jackson is not delivering jobs and economic development in these hard times, she argues. And his marquee project -- a third airport in the south suburbs, has yet to materialize.

... Jackson has been “distracted” by the investigation, to the detriment of his district, Halvorson says.

Jackson of course, begs to differ.

Read Laura S. Washington's entire column at the Chicago Sun-Times.

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