Pols coming forth to replace Jackson

2012-11-21T19:00:00Z 2012-11-21T20:12:07Z Pols coming forth to replace JacksonGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 21, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

At least six current or former political officials have contacted Thornton Township Democratic Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli in recent days to express their interest in being chosen to replace Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., in Congress, according to Zuccarelli spokesman Bob Storman.

Jackson formally submitted his resignation to House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday, yet Storman said the replacement issue has been up for discussion all week.

Storman identified the people who have contacted Zuccarelli to express interest and seek the committeeman’s support as Chicago 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale, state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris, D-Flossmoor, state Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, former state Rep. Robin Kelly, of Matteson, who now works on the staff of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago. None of the six individuals could be reached immediately Wednesday for comment.

Zuccarelli met on Tuesday with Cook County Democratic Chairman Joe Berrios to discuss the process of succession.

Storman said it was not clear if an interim representative could be chosen to fill the post until a special election could be held. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has five days to schedule an election to replace Jackson after he receives official notice, and the election must be held within 115 days, according to election officials.

Storman said that Zuccarelli has not given formal support to any of the people who contacted him in recent days to express interest in the congressional post.

Former Congressman Debbie Halvorson said she's not sure if she'll run in a special election to replace Jackson.

Halvorson ran against Jackson in a primary this year. She was seen as the best chance to unseat Jackson in his 17-year career. Jackson easily won, but Halvorson did make a dent in his numbers.

She had hoped that a newly drawn district that includes areas where Halvorson was a state lawmaker and House representative would help her.

Halvorson said she's going to wait and see how things unfold before deciding. But she said she's the only one mentioned so far who won't have to go to the House freshman orientation.

She lost re-election in 2010 to Congressman Adam Kinzinger in another district.

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, who calls herself a "lifelong resident of the 2nd District," said Wednesday night she is discussing a possible run for the office with her family and friends.

On Wednesday, Storman said Zuccarelli wants political officials to unify behind one candidate.

Storman also said that Trotter, who has served in the Illinois Senate for 20 years and also did a five-year stint in the Illinois House of Representatives prior to that, has the experience in representing both Chicago and suburban interests that might make him a candidate who could bring various interests together.

“He’s experienced enough that he might be the candidate who could bring us all together,” Storman said.

Trotter once tried running for a seat in Congress. In 2000, he unsuccessfully ran against Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. Changes in political boundaries now have him living in Jackson’s district.

In the elections held earlier this month, Jackson defeated Republican Brian Woodworth, independent Marcus Lewis and write-in candidate the Rev. Anthony Williams for the congressional seat.

Although he earned only 36 percent of the vote in losing a primary battle with Woodworth in March, Republican James H. Taylor has said he would run again for Jackson's seat in any special election. Neither Woodworth nor Taylor were available Wednesday for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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