Embattled Jackson Jr. to Stay on the Ballot

Despite illness and absence from the campaign trail, the congressman's re-election bid is still on.

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His absence ignited a firestorm of controversy. For days the media tried to determine his whereabouts, while some political leaders called for him to come forward or step down. Rumors spread unchecked, forcing his office on July 11 to release a statement saying that he was being treated for a mood disorder, not alcohol or substance abuse.

Further quelling rumors, the Mayo Clinic released a statement from Jackson on July 27 saying that he had arrived at the facility for "extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and gastrointestinal issues."

Now it will be up to his employers -- voters in his district, such as Phyllis Stinson, a homemaker in the Hyde Park community on Chicago's South Side -- to decide whether they will re-elect him while he is incapacitated. Stinson has voted for him in the past and said that she plans to do so again in November. She simply said that she wants to know that he is OK.

"Whatever is going on, I hope he can overcome it," she told The Root. "If you are in politics, you have to be strong."

As the son of the famous civil rights leader who ran for president, Jackson is acutely aware of the importance of being strong. While speaking at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition conference in Chicago in July, his mother, Jackie Jackson, said that "enormous" political disappointments in recent years may have contributed to his condition, according to the Huffington Post, quoting ABC Chicago.

"He thought he was going to be the senator -- thought he was going to have a chance to run for mayor," Jackie Jackson said. "And young people don't bounce back with disappointment like me and my husband."

Arzt, who said he vetted Jesse Jackson Sr.'s "Hymietown" mea culpa before the World Jewish Congress in Belgium, recalled another prominent case involving an absent congressman -- Adam Clayton Powell. But Jackson's situation is different, he said.

"This is not Adam Clayton Powell going to Bimini," Arzt said, referring to the 1960s scandal that occurred when the Democratic congressman from Harlem absconded to the Bahamian island to avoid paying a slander judgment to a New York woman. The yearslong political fallout ended up paving the way for Charlie Rangel to take Powell's seat. "We're all human and we all have frailties. We have our ups and downs. Jesse Jr. should be given time to heal."

Still, the timing of his absence has raised questions. A House Ethics Committee investigation is pending over allegations that Jackson discussed raising money for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign in exchange for an appointment to President Barack Obama's then-U.S. Senate seat. Jackson has repeatedly denied the allegations, according to the Associated Press.

Jackson also reportedly directed a fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, to purchase plane tickets for a woman described as a "social acquaintance." The congressman and his wife have called it a personal matter. And just days before Jackson's medical leave, the AP reported, "Nayak was arrested and pleaded not guilty to unrelated medical fraud charges."