Illinois: Governor Schedules Feb. 26 Special Election Primary

A special election primary has been set for Jesse L. Jackson Jr.'s 2nd District seat. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has scheduled a Feb. 26 special election primary for former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.'s seat.

In this heavily Democratic, South Side Chicago district, the primary victor in all likelihood will win the general election and serve as the next member of Congress from the 2nd District.

Jackson, an eight-term Democrat, announced his resignation from Congress last week. His departure was reportedly part of a plea deal for allegedly using campaign funds for personal purchases.

His vacancy sets up a crowded field to replace him. Jackson's former primary foe, ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill., announced her bid for the seat Monday morning — and many more are expected to follow in the coming days.

The contenders will have about 16 weeks to run for the seat. Quinn selected the special election dates to coincide with existing local elections to save costs.

“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. “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 2nd District can make their voices heard.”

Quinn scheduled a special general election for March 19, but that could change soon. A press release from his office stated he would try to move the special election to April 9 to coincide with previously scheduled local elections. This requires a change in statute, which means Quinn must work with the Illinois Legislature before his preferred date is final.

Illinois election law states a special election for a vacant U.S. House seat must be held within 115 days of the vacancy.