Jesse Jackson Jr. won re-election to Illinois’ 2nd Congressional district by a landslide Tuesday night, beating his two opponents, Marcus Lewis and Brian Woodwoorth.
As of 8:50 p.m., Jackson had captured 68 percent of the vote with 62 percent of precincts reporting.
“My deep and sincere thanks to the people of the 2nd Congressional District, I am humbled and moved by the support shown today,” Jackson said in a written statement. “Everyday, I think about your needs and concerns. Once the Doctors approve my return to work, I will continue to be the progressive fighter you have known for years. My family and I are grateful for your many heartfelt prayers and kind thoughts. I continue to feel better everyday and look forward to serving you.”
Jackson is not celebrating his victory in a swanky Chicago hotel room, or back stage at McCormick place with President Barack Obama watching the returns come in on the national race. He’s reportedly spending the night at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
For many Chicagoans, Jackson Jr’s victory will evoke the memory of another absent Chicago politician, John Stroger, the former Cook County Board President who was able to engineer an election win despite remaining disappearing from public view for months following a severe stroke. His future may evoke another.
Stroger won his primary battle without a problem, or an appearance. Months later used a bit of trickery to resign, then get his son Todd on the ticket before the general election, and the Chicago machine swept him into office. Stroger, the junior, won.
John Stroger never recovered from the stroke. He dipped in and out of the hospital over the next year and a half, suffering from seizures and other maladies that besiege 79-year-old men. Then he died, and his son trampled his legacy in his stead.
Jackson Jr. likewise suddenly disappeared from the public before the primary, in early June when he left for a treatment center in Arizona. He later moved on to Mayo where he was diagnosed with bipolar depression and gastrointestinal issues.
Between June and November, nary a constituent saw their Congressman — not working, not campaigning, not fundraising — because he avoided press and voter alike. Jackson, the junior, won.
If federal authorities make good on any number of not-so-veiled threats against Jackson Jr., he could suffer a much worse fate Stroger.
In October, Federal prosecutors and FBI agents in Washington launched a criminal investigation of Jackson, Jr. involving financial improprieties, including possible misuse of funds monitored by Congress to decorate his Washington D.C. Home.
At the same time, a House Ethics Committee continues to look into Jackson’s supposed involvement in trying to be appointed to now-President Barack Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Jackson has admitted he wanted to be appointed to the Senate, but has repeatedly denied allegations he sent emissaries to offer campaign cash to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for the seat.
The emissary that he denies sending to negotiate with Blagojevich, Raghuveer Nayak, was arrested on 17 counts of fraud in June around the same time Jackson vanished from office.
Nayak testified in the Blagojevich trial that he was authorized by Jackson Jr. to offer the governor as much as $6 million for that Senate seat.
Jackson Jr. may be sitting in a defendant’s seat before too long.
In that regard, Jackson Jr. evokes any number of Chicago politicians.