It was toward the end of last week that I felt compelled to publish a commentary here saying that I didn’t care what Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s political predicaments were – I was unimpressed enough with the field of opposing candidates to think that any of them could amount to anything come Nov. 6.
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So naturally, the very next day reports started coming out of Washington about an FBI investigation that has nothing to do with any of the allegations that the Jackson critics have been spouting off about in recent months.
BUT IT IS “suspicious activity” (as described by the Chicago Sun-Times) relating to the Jackson congressional finances and the way he spends his money.
Enhancing the nasty spin of this was a report by NBC News last week that contends attorneys for Jackson actually met with federal prosecutors in Washington to urge them to hold off on any indictment of the Congressman until after Election Day.
That really has the critics going to the point where we have to wonder if it can actually snowball into something of significance – even though we really don’t know much in the way of specifics about what it was that Jackson is supposed to have done that a federal prosecutor would want to file criminal charges against him.
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All it takes is the word “indictment” and people will screech and scream.
BUT I STILL remain convinced that the motley crew of opponents to the Jackson campaign this year will be incapable of taking advantage of the situation.
When the most intriguing personality of the batch is the guy who couldn’t even get on a ballot and is going via the write-in route, it makes me wonder if the Jackson critics will be more upset about Jackson’s alleged activities, or the fact that the Republican political structure around here is so weak that it couldn’t come up with a real nominee.
Brian Woodworth, who gave up his professorial post to campaign against Jackson, is just too low-key to command attention.
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And the Rev. Anthony Williams will be entertaining to listen to. But I don’t think his write-in bid this year will be any more successful than the bids he ran against Jackson in past years as a Republican, a Green Party member, a Libertarian, an independent and even once as a Democrat.
I SUSPECT THERE are those people who are thinking back to 1994 when an indicted Dan Rostenkowski tried to get himself re-elected to another term in Congress.
Ultimately, Rostenkowski admitted that the indictment just placed too much of an obstacle in front of him – enabling the political no-name Michael P. Flanagan to actually win that election cycle (only to lose to Rod Blagojevich come the 1996 cycle).
Is Brian Woodworth the next Mike Flanagan?
I just don’t see it, particularly since there were other circumstances that made that ’94 election cycle one likely to favor Republican candidates (and create the first GOP congressman from Chicago since the late 1960s).
BY COMPARISON, THIS year’s election cycle is shaping up in ways that Barack Obama will continue to be a strong influence in Illinois – we love him here in ways that the rest of the nation does not, particularly when you get into the Chicago area.
Which works to his advantage.
I have amongst my collection of campaign trinkets throughout the years a mailing that Jackson sent to people in the Illinois Second Congressional district back in 2004 – one advising him of his support for this “Obama” guy for the U.S. Senate.
Jackson support helped Obama emerge from the pack of candidates to win that cycle.
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This year, Obama returns the political favor by stirring up enough district voters to ensure that the Kankakee County part of the district will not generate enough votes to oppose Jr.
WHICH IS WHY I still see a Jackson victory – no matter how much anyone wants to believe that these latest reports are the political “kiss of death” for the son of the civil rights leader.
I suspect many people in the Illinois Second Congressional District will cast their ballots for “Democrat,” thereby placing their faith in the party structure to pick a congressional replacement should circumstances wind up that Jackson does have to depart.