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Durbin, Emanuel Increasingly Doubtful About Jackson Jr.’s Political Future

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Former U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr. (Credit: Getty Images)

Former U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr. (Credit: Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Two nationally prominent Democrats are ending their “wait-and-see” approach to Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s problems and raising questions about his future.

Mayor Emanuel, after announcing a new park district health and fitness initiative hiring returning servicemen, first gave his usual response to questions about the controversy over Jackson, who has been on extended medical leave while reportedly being investigated by the feds.

“My thoughts and prayers are first and foremost with the family,” Emanuel said Monday.

But then, for the first time, the mayor went further.

“It’s incumbent upon him to have a conversation with his constituents about his intentions,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, like the Mayor, was unwilling to rush to judge Jackson yet. But he added: “The fact is, if this is honest and accurate, then it raises some serious questions about his continued service in Congress.”

Both were responding to CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine’s report that prominent defense attorney Dan Webb is in the process of trying to negotiate a deal for Jackson with the U.S. Justice Department.

The deal would include Jackson resigning for health reasons, pleading guilty to charges involving misuse of campaign funds and paying back whatever campaign contributions were converted for personal use.

At least some jail time would appear to be inevitable.

“We’re in a position of trust, public trust, when we run for office. We are held to higher levels. And if there’s been any violation there, a price has to be paid,” Durbin said.

More evidence that few expect Jackson to return: A Tuesday meeting has been scheduled by proponents of the proposed airport in Peotone. They are expected to urge other elected officials not to let Peotone die just because its principal sponsor, Jackson, isn’t around anymore.

Contributing: CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall.

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