By Jamey Dunn
Voters in Illinois’ Second Congressional District will soon be headed back to the polls to choose a replacement for Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned from Congress last week.
Jackson has been struggling with health problems, including bipolar disorder, and is the subject of a federal probe into potential misuse of campaign funds. He resigned last Wednesday in a letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. "For seventeen years, I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service," he writes. "However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish. Against the recommendations of my doctors, I had hoped and tried to return to Washington and continue working on the issues that matter most to the people of the Second District. I know now that will not be possible,” Jackson wrote.
Gov. Pat Quinn today announced that a special primary will be held on February 26, 2013, to coincide with local primary elections that are already scheduled for that day.
Quinn chose March 19, 2013, for the general election to fill the seat. However, he said he would like to change that date to April 9, 2013, when local primary elections are already scheduled. State law requires that the special election be held 115 days after the governor files a writ of election with the county clerks of counties participating in the special election. Quinn said he hopes to work with the General Assembly to change that requirement and move the date so that a separate election does not have to be held. “This special election will be carried out in a manner that is fair to the electorate and as economical as possible for taxpayers,” Quinn said in a written statement. “By holding the special primary and general elections on the same days as existing contests, we can save significant taxpayer dollars and ensure the people of the Second District can make their voices heard.”
Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, whom Jackson defeated in the March primary election, has announced plans to run for the seat. Approximately 420,000 registered voters live in the 2nd District, which stretches across Cook, Kankakee and Will counties.