Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is ‘Jesse Jackson, Jr., for Mayor’ done before the meat even starts a cookin’?

There is one plus side to the reports we have been getting from the Chicago Sun-Times in recent days. With any luck, we can now disregard one name from the list of prospective candidates for Chicago mayor.

Only a complete fool would think that Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., will be capable of undoing the smear he was hit with this week by next spring’s municipal elections.

OF COURSE, I was starting to wonder if the Congressman fell into that category, since just before these reports came out, Jackson’s wife, Alderman Sandi of the 7th Ward, was publicly saying her husband would likely declare his mayoral candidacy soon, and that she was backing away from her own dreams of running for mayor in 2011.

On a serious level, one should always have been skeptical about Jackson – who has long let it be known that he might like to be mayor of Chicago someday. The fact that his name got thrown about during the whole Blagojevich affair (and could still come up if Milorod decides he wants to mess with Jackson during his second trial early next year) means he is too toxic to win such a prominent political post at this time.

With the passage of time, he may overcome all of this to the point where it becomes ancient history. He also is young enough (only 45) that he can afford to wait another decade or so and still run a viable campaign.

The only difference is that instead of being a “mayor for life” that he would have dreamed of (the way that Harold Washington used to boast he’d be mayor for 20 years, instead of barely making it past four), he may only get a term or two in some future elections.

WHAT THE SUN-TIMES gave us in various published reports this week were more of the salacious details that will ensure that Jackson just isn’t going to crawl out of the muck of candidates that will make an effort to try to get themselves elected mayor this time around.

The Sun-Times told us of the extent to which Jackson wanted to be picked to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, even though he knew Blagojevich (who had the power to pick a replacement) would never give it to him.

Even if an explanation to show how his conduct is legal does manage to come up, the public perception is that he was willing to engage in funky behavior. Which is a shame because he may well have been the best qualified of all the local political types to get the post (although I still say that giving it to Roland Burris ultimately worked out because I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to get the benefits of incumbency through a political appointment).

If anything, I think the more titillating factor may be “the blonde” whose picture we got to see on the front page on Wednesday.

IT’S FAR FROM former Sen. Gary Hart photographed with blonde Donna Rice sitting on his lap while wearing the “Monkey Business” t-shirt, but it is enough that it will create the sordid image that will take Jackson years to live down.

In all fairness to Jackson, I will republish his response about Giovana Huidobro, a restaurant hostess from the District of Columbia whom the congressman refers to as a “social acquaintance” and the newspaper reports Jackson paid for travel expenses so she could visit Chicago on behalf of the suburban business executive who reportedly was helping Jackson make contact with Blagojevich to set up a Senate appointment – with a possible donation of up to $6 million in return.

He says she is a “private and personal affair between me and my wife that was handled some time ago,” adding, “I ask you to respect my privacy,” which few people will.

It’s convoluted. It’s crazy. I’ll bet most people who read the reports won’t fully comprehend what is being said. They will just pick up on images and general ideas.

THOSE IDEAS WILL be enough to force Jackson – who is strong enough politically that he doesn’t have to worry about losing come Nov. 2, he was one of the few Freshman Democrats to come out of the 1994 elections that GOP types like to think they dominated – to have to postpone his mayoral dreams.

It almost makes me wonder if White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who considers himself to be a formidable mayoral candidate, now regrets his meeting earlier this month with Jackson to discuss the campaign – fearing he might get tainted by association with J.J., Jr.

The man who already has been elected to Congress eight times may wind up making it 16 or 20, because he’s not moving to any other political post anytime soon.


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