CRETE, Ill. (CBS) — Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson on Thursday is formally challenging Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) for his 2nd Congressional District seat.
Halvorson officially announced Thursday morning that she will be running for Jackson’s seat.
As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, the contest will be a match-up of longtime political adversaries.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
Jackson and Halvorson have never run against each other before, but they have long clashed over which officials would control a proposed airport in Peotone, and the jobs it would generate.
Halvorson, who represented the 11th Congressional District, was defeated in the midterm elections last year by Republican Adam Kinzinger. She has now decided to run in the Democratically-drawn 2nd District, which is predominantly African-American.
She says she is running to bring real leadership and real representation to the district, and that people need results rather than rhetoric.
Halvorson spoke exclusively with CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley on Wednesday. She said she knows Jackson could well spend six times more on this race than she’ll be able to raise, but as a former Congresswoman, Halvorson said she also knows the new 2nd District intimately and believes voters are crying out for a choice.
“I don’t see what he’s done in his last 15 years as far as bringing jobs to the area,” Halvorson said. “We’ve got unemployment that is still skyrocketing and there are people that are hurting.”
Halvorson also addressed Jackson’s recent problems, including an extramarital affair with a Washington restaurant hostess and alleged ties to the corruption case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Although Jackson has never been charged with wrongdoing, federal prosecutors have said that an Indian businessman and Jackson fundraiser offered to raise millions for Blagojevich in exchange for Jackson being appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2008.
Halvorson said she believes those issues will be problems for Jackson in any attempt to get re-elected next year.
“All I know is, the people who are reaching out to me over his distractions, they are going to cause him trouble,” Halvorson said.
In a written statement, Jackson says he has secured funding for a possible south suburban airport, and is focused on bringing jobs to the community. He said he has brought more than $900 million in federal investment to the 2nd District.
The new 2nd District, drawn to help preserve an African American majority on the new Illinois congressional map, stretches far beyond Chicago – as far south as Kankakee – and southwest, including Crete – Havlorson’s quiet, semi-rural hometown.
African Americans will make up slimmer majority in the new 2nd District, making up 53 percent of the district’s population.