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Hutchinson, Kelly, Beale Join Race To Replace Jackson In Congress

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (left) and former State Rep. Robin Kelly (right) are running to replace U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress.

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (left) and former State Rep. Robin Kelly (right) are running to replace U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress.

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Updated 11/29/12 – 5:16 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Three more Chicago politicians have jumped into an increasingly crowded race to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in the 2nd Congressional District: Illinois State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), Chicago Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), and Robin Kelly — a top aide to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Hutchinson formally announced in an email Thursday that she would run for the seat Jackson vacated last week.

“Families in the South Suburbs and the [South Side] deserve a representative who understands their concerns and who will work alongside President Obama to create new jobs, rebuild our roads and schools, and protect the gains we’ve made on equal pay, health care and civil rights,” Hutchinson said.

Beale also announced Thursday he’s joining the race for Jackson’s seat. He told the Chicago Sun-Times he’s the only candidate in the field who’s created thousands of jobs, referring to his successful work to bring a Wal-Mart store to Pullman Park, at 111th and Doty Avenue. That store, set to open next spring, will be the third Wal-Mart supercenter in Chicago.

Meantime, CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall has confirmed Kelly also is joining the race and will formally announce her candidacy on Sunday at an event in south suburban Matteson.

Kelly was a state representative from 2003 to 2007, representing the 38th District in the south suburbs. She also served as the chief of staff for former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias when he was in office from 2007 to 2011. She ran for State Treasurer in 2010, but lost to Republican Judy Baar Topinka.

Since then, she has been Preckwinkle’s chief administrative officer.

Beale has been on the City Council since 1999, when he won election with Jackson’s help.

He was a key figure in 2010 negotiations with Wal-Mart to expand its presence in Chicago, helping secure a deal between the company and organized labor, calling for the company to set starting wages at its Chicago stores at $8.75 per hour, which is 50 cents less than unions had wanted, but 50 cents more than minimum wage.

Hutchinson has been a state senator since 2009, when she was appointed to complete Debbie Halvorson’s term in the Illinois Senate after Halvorson was elected to Congress. Before that, Hutchinson had been Halvorson’s chief of staff.

She said, if elected, she would focus on creating jobs and long-term economic development in the district, and to protect Social Security and Medicare from privatization.

A fourth candidate — Orland Fire Protection District President James P. Hickey — also joined the race on Thursday. Hickey ran for the 11th District seat in Congress in the March primary, but lost to Bill Foster, who ended up winning the general election this month. Hickey got only 16 percent of the vote in the primary.

Hickey’s announcement of his bid for the 2nd District seat provided no details about his background, only saying he believes he’s the best candidate to represent the 2nd District.

In his announcement, Hickey said he wishes Jackson luck in dealing with his health issues, but said, “It’s about time that the people of the 2nd Congressional District had someone who was out of the headlines and instead in the trenches fighting for what the district needs.”

“What the 2nd District has lacked for far too many years is a representative who is concerned about the interests of the people,” Hickey said.

Among other candidates who have already declared plans to run for the seat is Hutchinson’s former boss, ex-Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson.

Halvorson ran against Jackson for the 2nd District seat in the Democratic primary, but was handily defeated. She announced Monday that she would run for the now vacant seat.

Also running is former Congressman Mel Reynolds, who held the seat until he resigned in disgrace in 1995, after he was convicted of having sex with an underage campaign volunteer. Jackson replaced Reynolds in 1995.

Former NFL running back Napoleon Harris, who was just elected to the Illinois Senate earlier this month, also has announced he will run to replace Jackson.

Also considering bids for the seat are Ald. Will Burns (4th), State Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), Jackson’s brother Jonathan, prominent defense attorney Sam Adam Jr., and South Side pastor Corey Brooks, who gained notoriety by camping out on the roof of a shuttered South Side hotel to raise the money to buy and demolish it to make way for a community center.

Jackson Jr. resigned last week, citing his ongoing struggles with bipolar disorder. He also said he is cooperating with federal prosecutors, who reportedly have been investigating possible misuse of campaign funds.