Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has now been missing for a month. His constituents in the 2nd Congressional District don’t know where he is, or what’s wrong with him.
It’s time to start asking whether he can continue in office, or if he even plans to. The lack of information from his camp leads to all sorts of questions.
Here's one question: if Jackson resigns so soon before an election, who would replace him?
Since the Nov. 6 election is less than 180 days away, it’s too late to hold a special election, said Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel of the Illinois Board of Elections. However, if Jackson resigns as a candidate as late as 15 days before the election, he can be replaced on the ballot.
A new candidate would be chosen at a meeting of the 2nd District’s Democratic Party county chairmen. Each chairman would have a number of votes equal to the votes cast by his county in the primary. Since Cook County cast 88.6 percent of the votes in the 2nd District primary, Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios would have complete control of the process.
Since the new candidate won’t be running in a special election, though, he or she won’t take office until the new Congress convenes in January. That means Jackson’s best move is probably to resign as a candidate but serve out his term.
If he does that, whom would Berrios appoint? Jackson’s wife, 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson, is the obvious choice. She’s a recognized officeholder, and already spends half her time in Washington, D.C., where her children attend school. And Joe Berrios believes in nepotism. But she also has the Jackson baggage. State Sen. Donne Trotter -- who ran for Congress in 2000 against Bobby Rush and Barack Obama -- might be a good candidate. So might State Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Chicago Heights, or even Alderman Anthony Beale (9th).
Needless to say, Debbie Halvorson, who lost to Jackson in the March primary, would like to the nomination. Also needless to say, Boss Berrios won’t give it to her.
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