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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(The Root) -- Despite the recent revelation that Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), who hasn't been on the campaign trail in weeks, is being treated for depression at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., his name will remain on the ballot come Election Day on Nov. 6, a representative for the congressman and his wife told The Root.

"The campaign is continuing to go forward," said Kevin Lampe, a Democratic political consultant who is working with Jackson on his re-election campaign and serves as an adviser to his wife, Sandi Jackson, the 7th Ward alderman on Chicago's South Side. It's unknown when he will return to work or to the campaign trail.

Jackson, whose district includes a large portion of Chicago's South Side and Southeast suburbs, defeated former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson in a landslide victory during the primary race in March. He is slated to face Republican challenger Brian Woodworth in November.

Although he is the Democratic nominee, Jackson has until Aug. 24, the certification deadline, to withdraw from the race, Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections, told The Root.

"He is the Democratic nominee," Menzel said. "He was nominated during the primary. If he does nothing, we will prepare for the November election with his name on the ballot unless he takes affirmative action to withdraw."

George Arzt, a Democratic political consultant who was press secretary to then New York Mayor Ed Koch, told The Root that Jackson's political team and family will try to save his political career. Indeed, black political leaders in Chicago have coalesced and closed ranks around the candidate in an effort to stanch the flow of negative information about the ailing Jackson. Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel has urged the community and other elected officials to give him time to get better.

"I don't know the severity of his illness, but his office still functions," Arzt said. "People in general will give him time to heal."

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Still, before Election Day rolls around, Arzt said, Jackson's team should present him to voters, even though he won the primary by more than 70 percent in the Democratic-leaning district. "They just need to put him out there and maybe say a couple of words," Arzt said. "He can make a statement without going through a Q&A. He could make a statement to the press, and that would be it. No one will say that if he can't represent the district, he should resign. That would be a detriment to that person's career."

Jackson, known for not missing a vote on Capitol Hill, has not recorded one since June 8, the Chicago Tribune reported. He hasn't hit the campaign trail, either. He apparently went on leave June 10, though his office didn't reveal it until weeks later.

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM