Black leaders are growing increasingly worried that a white candidate might seize the seat of former Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in the upcoming Illinois special election.
With a host of black candidates announcing their intention to seek the seat, the concern is that they could split the African-American vote and provide a plurality to a white contender. The worries escalated this week after former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, a white Democrat and veteran of suburban Chicago politics, threw her hat into the ring.
Losing Jackson’s seat would be a blow to the black establishment. Chicago, long a center of black cultural and political power — it’s the home of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, and the first 20th-century black member of Congress, Oscar De Priest — would see its delegation in the Congressional Black Caucus diminish from three seats to two. And there’s Jackson’s background as the son of iconic civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Jackson’s district, which first elected him in 1995, contains a small majority of black voters.
“There’s a great deal of concern that Debbie Halvorson would win because the black vote would be split 18 ways,” said Delmarie Cobb, a longtime Democratic political consultant in Chicago who formerly worked for Jackson Jr. (Politico)