If Obama wins, Jackson Jr. should take Senate seat

America will soon elect a new president. If that new president is Barack Obama, and we sincerely hope that it is, Illinois will need to quickly fill one of the most famous seats in the U.S. Senate.

America will soon elect a new president. If that new president is Barack Obama, and we sincerely hope that it is, Illinois will need to quickly fill one of the most famous seats in the U.S. Senate. If that’s the case, the Chicago Defender strongly endorses Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. as Senator Obama’s successor. We believe that Congressman Jackson has proven to be the very best person to carry on Barack’s legacy and to represent all Illinoisans in the Senate. Not only that, Jesse Jr. would serve as a stalwart and loyal advocate in the U.S. Senate for the new administration, which could critically prove important in the tough years ahead. Congressional Quarterly once named Congressman Jackson one of the “Top 50 Lawmakers” in Congress, noting that “no doubt he sees one of his roles as that of spreading his liberal message to a wider audience than just the House.” During his 13 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Jackson has been a passionate and progressive leader. Like Senator Obama, Jackson has been an inspiring, effective and dedicated public servant from Chicago’s South Side. His record demonstrates a commitment to advocating for innovative and profound changes that America needs, both at home and abroad. Like Obama, Jackson is a skilled and seasoned lawmaker whose worked effectively with both Democrats and Republicans to promote and further Illinois’ interests on Capitol Hill. And like Barack, Jesse Jr. is a proven vote getter and coalition builder who finds support across political and demographic lines. Thus, Jackson is imminently electable in two years. He consistently receives strong support among Black, white, Hispanic and Asian voters; among Christians, Jews and Muslims; city, suburban and even rural residents; business and labor; and the young and old. While few may know this about him, Jackson has compiled one of the best voting records in the House—missing only two votes throughout his entire career. That voting record means Jackson brings almost unprecedented know-how and expertise to the job. As a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee for the past nine years, Jackson has led efforts to increase domestic investments in health care, education, infrastructure and national security. For his district, he’s secured more than $600 million in federal aid for schools, hospitals, clean water, infrastructure and more. This money has served as a catalyst for growth and development, often in communities suffering from neglect and disinvestment. On the world front, Jackson has gained invaluable international experience and insight as a senior member of the congressional committee responsible for foreign aid. A staunch and early opponent of the Iraq War, he believes in direct, principled and tough diplomacy, knowing that military force should always be used as a last resort. As a member of Congress, he has traveled the world—including trips to Israel, Darfur and Liberia—highlighting the need for American engagement in promoting sustainable peace, development and democracies. It was this depth and breadth of experience—bringing resources to his district, legislating progressive programs in DC, and exporting good-will overseas—that prompted Senator Obama to name Jesse Jr. as one of his 10 national campaign co-chairs. Finally and significantly, there is the issue of diversity in the U.S. Senate. Senator Obama is the only African-American Senator. If the Senate has any hope of reflecting today’s face of America, this seat (once held by Carol Moseley-Braun) should be filled by an African-American. Congressman Jackson, like Obama, is a member of Congress’ new generation of Black leaders—leaders who transcend race, who embrace and encourage dynamic and diverse views, and who have moved beyond the fight for civil rights to the pursuit of human rights for all. Coincidentally, at 43, Congressman Jackson would be the youngest member of the U.S. Senate—even though he has 13 years of legislative experience and relationships. So while he’d give up considerable seniority in the House, Jackson is young enough to serve long enough in the Senate to acquire the seniority and influence necessary to truly benefit Illinois. In short, his experience and qualifications uniquely prepare him to hit the ground running and immediately take on the critical challenges facing our nation, our new president and our world. Without reservation, we believe that Congressman Jackson would be an outstanding U.S. Senator, able to serve our state with integrity, dignity and honor. Thus, if the opportunity arises, we strongly urge Governor Blagojevich to appoint Jesse Jackson Jr. to the U.S. Senate.

______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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