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.

Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

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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.

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.