Jack­son fends off chal­lenger; other Illi­nois races un­de­cided

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY SOPHIA TA­REEN

CHICAGO | Rep. Jesse Jack­son Jr. eas­ily won the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion Tues­day af­ter a heated Illi­nois pri­mary, but the fate of an­other long­time con­gress­man was still too early to call, along with the matchup for the state’s only open con­gres­sional seat and a race to de­ter­mine which Demo­crat will face a tea party fire­brand.

Mr. Jack­son and Rep. Don­ald A. Manzullo, a Re­pub­li­can, faced the tough­est pri­mary bat­tles of their ca­reers, and a new con­gres­sional map, which dra­mat­i­cally re­shaped par­ti­san ter­ri­tory in Illi­nois, added to the in­ten­sity.

With 80 per­cent of precincts re­port­ing, Mr. Jack­son had 71 per­cent of the vote, while his chal­lenger, for­mer one-term Rep. Deb­bie Halvor­son, had 20 per­cent. Ms. Halvor­son called Mr. Jack­son to con­cede.

“I had to take it very se­ri­ously,” Mr. Jack­son told the As­so­ci­ated Press Tues­day night. “I never take an op­po­nent lightly. She put up a very, very strong chal­lenge.”

Mean­while, a pri­mary con­test in Chicago’s sub­urbs set the stage for who will run against out­spo­ken Re­pub­li­can Rep. Joe Walsh in Novem­ber, and an­other elec­tion in the south­ern half of the state was to de­ter­mine can­di­dates in the race to re­place re­tir­ing Demo­cratic Rep. Jerry F. Costello.

Democrats say they could gain as many as five new seats in Illi­nois come Novem­ber, push­ing them closer to re­gain­ing the U.S. House. But Repub­li­cans say they’re poised to pick up a seat in the south­ern half of the state and can suc­cess­fully de­fend chal­lenges to the five GOP con­gress­men who won in 2010 dur­ing a Re­pub­li­can surge in Illi­nois.

Repub­li­cans will lose at least one con­gress­man be­cause the state lost a con­gres­sional seat in the remap from 19 to 18 and there’s an in­cum­bent matchup in north-cen­tral Illi­nois.

Mr. Manzullo, who has served 10 terms, was locked in a tight race with fresh­man U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a for­mer Air Force pi­lot who was among the five GOP fresh­men elected two years ago.

Mr. Kinzinger’s old dis­trict was split in the remap, which was han­dled by Democrats and carved out ter­ri­tory in their fa­vor. He de­cided to run against Mr. Manzullo, who is cur­rently serv­ing in the 16th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. The dis­trict is one of Illi­nois’ most con­ser­va­tive pock­ets, curv­ing from the Wis­con­sin bor­der to the In­di­ana line and in­clud­ing farms, farflung Chicago sub­urbs and man­u­fac­tur­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

No Democrats ran in the Tues­day pri­mary, so the win­ner will al­most cer­tainly head back to Washington.

The pri­mary for Mr. Jack­son, who first took of­fice in 1995, was the most in­tense of his ca­reer. The son of the civil rights ac­tivist mounted an ag­gres­sive pri­mary fight with Ms. Halvor­son as she has made ques­tions about his ethics cen­tral to her cam­paign. While he has de­nied any wrong­do­ing, the House ethics com­mit­tee is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Mr. Jack­son’s ties to im­pris­oned exIlli­nois Gov. Rod Blago­je­vich.

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