Reporting Derrick Blakley
CHICAGO (CBS) –The primary election for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s 2nd Congressional District seat is next Tuesday and some of the candidates meet Monday for a debate.
Eleven candidates filled the stage but looming large was one politician who wasn’t there: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg’s Super PAC has poured more than a $1.5 million into TV ads attacking former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson on guns, but it was Democratic candidate, Rev. Anthony Williams, who called him out.
“Don’t let Bloomberg come in here and determine he’s gonna pick your next congressman. This election belongs to you,” said Williams.
But both Halvorson, and the candidate Bloomberg’s endorsed, former State Senator Robin Kelly, largely kept focus on seniors.
Halvorson advocated for higher taxes to protect social security and Kelly called for cutting Medicare waste.
Other Democratic candidates on hand: Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale, attorney Ernest Fenton, businessman Victor Johnson, educator Fateemah Muhammad, Pastor Larry Pickens and health consultant Joyce Washington.
The two Republicans in the debate were educator Beverly Reid and publisher Eric Wallace.
With jobs an issue throughout the district, two candidates skirmished over former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s pet project: the Peotone airport.
“That third airport is the biggest piece of the puzzle to make sure the South Side and South Suburban area thrives,” said Beale.
“We’ve been talking about Peotone since 1964. $100 million spent. Where’s the planes?” said Williams.
Even with 11 candidates on stage, at least four others were milling in the lobby claiming they were unfairly excluded. They included former congressman Mel Reynolds, Gregory Haines, Cliff Eagleton and Paul McKinley, all Democrats, and Lee Allen of the Green Party.