Jesse Jackson Jr.’s seat up in the air

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    He was certainly considered royalty within the African American community. After all, he’s the son of one of America’s heroes, a man who not only ran for president way before there was a Barack Obama, but changed the very landscape of how we look at race in this country.

    So it’s not surprising that anyone who wanted to succeed the resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois – would have to wait in line.

    The embattled Jackson Jr. left congress Nov. 21 after a lengthy absence, where during that time he underwent treatment for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. He also faced a federal probe of the alleged misuse of campaign funds.

    Consequently, on Monday, 22 candidates—17 Democrats and 5 Republicans—filed for the Feb. 26 primary to supersede the Congressman.

    Since Jackson Jr.’s resignation, many have not been sheepish about coveting his former seat in the house. And while a plethora of people showed interest in the position, a mere 22 were able to present at least 1,256 signatures that would allow them to run.

    Among those not previously named, were Joyce Washington, who vied for the U.S. Senate in 2004. She announced her candidacy Sunday and filed by the Monday 5 p.m. deadline. There is also former African American conservative radio host and political commentator Lenny McAllister, who many believe is a serious challenger from the GOP field.

    Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson is also back in the mix after losing the Democratic primary election to Jackson Jr. in 2012, when he garnered an overwhelming 71 percent of the votes. Needless to say, she is elated to have a second chance at the sought-after seat, insisting she is the front runner because of her congressional experience.

    Take in to account, the heavily Democratic Chicago-area 2nd District will likely center on the Democratic slate, where former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds; state Sen. Toi Hutchinson; Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale; Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly; health care executive and former U.S. Senate candidate Joyce Washington; and former NFL linebacker and state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris, will all be vying for the opportunity.

    The winners of their party primaries will face off in an April 9 special general election. 

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