Reporting Jay Levine
CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s brother, Jonathan Jackson, said Tuesday he will not run for his brother’s vacant seat in the House of Representatives.
Jonathan Jackson – a Chicago State University professor, activist, and leader in his father’s Operation PUSH organization – broke the news to CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine on Tuesday.
“It’s not for me, and certainly elected office is not for me at this time,” Jonathan Jackson said.
He said the timing was simply not right to run for public office.
His brother, Jesse Jackson Jr., resigned from Congress last month, while undergoing continuing treatment for bipolar disorder, and facing a federal investigation of possible misuse of campaign funds. The former congressman’s defense team has been negotiating a plea deal, but that could take several more weeks, if not months.
The former congressman’s wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) was reportedly urged by Democratic Party bigwigs to get into the race after Jesse Jr. resigned. She gave it some thought, but ultimately declined.
“It’s not a Jackson property, it was not his property. It’s now back into the hands of the people the way that the seat should go. There was no back-room deals to try to put someone on the ballot,” Jonathan Jackson said.
With no members of the Jackson family running for the seat Jesse Jr. had held since 1995, the top-tier candidates appeared to be state Senators Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) and Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), and former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, who was defeated by Jesse Jr. in the March primary this year.
Among other strong contenders are: Ald. Anthony Beale (9th); former Cook County administrator and former state Rep. Robin Kelly, who ran for State Treasurer two years ago; and newly elected state Sen. Napoleon Harris, who won his first term in November, but has yet to be seated.
Also considering running is former Congressman Mel Reynolds, who served jail time for a sex crime, and who Jesse Jr. replaced in Congress; flamboyant defense attorney Sam Adam Jr.; and Marcus Lewis, who ran against Jackson earlier this year as an independent candidate.
“Senator Toi Hutchinson, I think she’s a superb candidate. I know Mr. Napoleon Harris; I think he’s a fine young man with a bright political future,” Jonathan Jackson said.
Democratic Party leaders met over the weekend in an effort to pick a candidate to endorse for Jackson’s seat, but could not line up behind a single candidate, so the Democratic special primary for Jackson’s seat will be wide open.
Any potential Democratic candidate for the seat must gather a minimum of 1,256 signatures on nominating petitions to be eligible for the Feb. 26 special primary election. Petitions can be filed between Jan. 3 and Jan 7.
The special general election for Jackson’s seat is scheduled for April 9.
A Republican candidate would need only 288 signatures, independent candidates would need as many as 25,095 signatures, and new party candidates would need at least 15,682.
Jackson said he could run for public office in the future.
Meantime, Ald. Sandi Jackson, who has been struggling to balance her family and her career, remains a polished campaigner with deep support among powerful Democrats. In other words, the resignation of her husband might not be the final chapter in the family’s political history.