Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. beat back a primary challenge earlier this year. Despite health troubles that have kept him out of the public eye for months and an FBI investigation, he may win another term serving his Illinois district. Name recognition and a large fundraising advantage will likely be enough to keep the lawmaker in office.
An embattled candidate. A troubled past. A new federal criminal probe. So many times, this combination has cost a Congressman his job come election time.
In the case of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D), however, it is likely that even with the latest news that the FBI is investigating him for improperly spending campaign donations, he will remain the Representative for Illinois’ 2nd district.
The FBI is in the final stages of investigating whether Jackson spent money from his campaign coffers to decorate his house, according to a Monday report in the Wall Street Journal.
The report punctuates a very bad year for Jackson, who has been out of the public eye for months after receiving inpatient treatment for bipolar disorder.
Three candidates are looking to unseat Jackson but by every measure — from name recognition to party registration advantage to fundraising — the prospect that one of them would succeed is a long shot.
But that is not stopping them from firing away at Jackson, who has disappeared from public for months and is reportedly convalescing at his Washington, D.C., home.
In interviews, two of his opponents brought up another Monday news story, this one from Gawker, which cited two unnamed sources who saw Jackson drinking at a District bar not far from his home twice last week.
“He can’t be that sick if he was at a bar the other night,” said the Rev. Anthony Williams, who is running as an independent in a write-in bid. It’s his sixth time taking on Jackson; he has run for office on the Green, Libertarian and Republican party lines, as well as bids in the Democratic primary.
“It’s my hope and prayer that the eyes of the voters and citizens are wide open. You can’t keep electing someone you don’t get service out of,” he said.
Marcus Lewis, a mail carrier whose name is on the ballot, is also running as an independent, and he said he thinks Jackson’s illness is nothing more than a “sham.”
He acknowledged that Jackson’s name recognition is unparalleled but said that if the lawmaker is indicted before the election, the name recognition could work against him.
“Jackson’s name is going to be mud. He’s not going to be elected,” Lewis said. “He needs to step down to get this over with.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.