Jonathan Jackson said Wednesday he feels good that recognizing his father’s name has helped him win the field of the 17 Democrats running for Rep. Bobby Rush’s seat in Congress.
“My last name is synonymous with service,” Jackson told me. “Jackson’s name carries great recognition fighting for the underdogs, those who have had their backs against the wall, who have faced disadvantage. There is compassion in that name and a commitment to justice.
Jackson, 56, is known as an entrepreneur and activist. He was a national spokesperson for Rainbow/PUSH for many years. Her father, Jesse Jackson, founded the civil rights group. The eldest Jackson, 80, marched with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jonathan’s godfather.
Jesse Jackson Jr., brother of Jonathan and son of Jesse, represented the 2nd congressional district from 1995 to 2012. He resigned and was convicted of embezzling campaign funds.
A black man has represented the 1st District since the late Representative William Dawson took office in 1943. His successors included the late Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. The office is among the most important elected positions in the black community in Illinois, a constituency critical to the success of the Democratic Party.
I realized Jackson was the frontrunner in May at a candidate forum at a church in Englewood. Her challenge was to win over the doubters, like one woman I overheard leaving the event.
“We’re not just going to give it to him,” she told another woman.
I asked Jackson how he intended to represent the entire 1st District, which stretches from the south side of Chicago to Elwood and Braidwood in Will County and south into Kankakee County. Rush, who held the seat for 30 years, has been criticized for ignoring suburban and rural parts of the district, which includes Homer Glen, New Lenox and other communities.
Jackson responded by talking about gun violence, the opioid crisis, infrastructure and stagnating wages.
“There are so many things that unite us that are common issues,” he said. “We ran our campaign throughout the district, from Wilmington to Worth, from Frankfort and Mokena to the southern part of the Loop. We feel very comfortable representing the entire district.
According to unofficial results compiled by the Chicago Tribune, Jackson led the pack with 18,529 votes, or 28 percent of the vote. Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell finished second with 12,694 votes, or 19.2%. Rush-endorsed candidate Karin Norington-Reaves, State Senator Jacqueline Collins and anti-abortion Democrat Reverend Chris Butler rounded out the top five.
Jackson will apparently face Eric Carlson de Lemont in November. Carlson led by 376 votes over Jeffery Regnier in the Republican primary. Carlson, 54, served six years in prison after he sexually assaulted a woman after the 1994 South Side Irish Parade, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Rush will remain active in politics. He won the 1st District committee member seat on the Democratic State Central Committee with 64% of the vote over State Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. and two others.
In another contest for an open seat created by the retirement of a longtime incumbent, Prairie State College administrator Monica Gordon of Flossmoor beat Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry and two others in the Cook County Council’s 5th District Democratic primary.
Deborah Sims, who represented the district for 28 years, endorsed Gordon and said she thought another black woman should represent the district.
Gordon won with 38.5% of the vote, according to unofficial results. Her 7,902 votes were 2,700 more than runner-up Kierra Williams. Alsberry was a close third, ahead of recent law school graduate Jaylin McClinton.
The 5th District covers all or part of Blue Island, Riverdale, Posen, Robbins, Midlothian, Harvey, Hazel Crest, Flossmoor, Olympia Fields, Chicago Heights, Glenwood, Ford Heights, and other communities.
Gordon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. She won with 79.5% of the vote over Glenwood administrator Adam Winston in a race to become a member of the Bloom Township Democratic committee. Chicago Heights City Clerk Lori Wilcox did not seek another warrant. Alsberry was uncontested for another term as a member of the Democrat committee of the canton of Bremen.
State Sen. Napoleon B. Harris III of Harvey led the five-man race to fill the position of member of the Thornton Township Democratic Committee created when Frank Zuccarelli died in January. With 102 of 104 precincts flagged Wednesday by mid-afternoon, Harris led with 4,520 votes, 54 more than Calumet City Mayor Thaddeus Jones, who won the Democratic primary for another term in as the state representative of the 29th district.
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Cook County Republican Party Chairman Sean Morrison of Palos Park defeated his predecessor, Liz Gorman of Orland Park, in the GOP primary for the Cook County Council’s 17th District seat. Morrison is one of only two Republicans on the 17-member council.
“I will continue to stick to my Conservative principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and lower taxes,” Morrison said in a statement. “I will also remain committed to challenging the ‘soft on crime’ policies that have endangered communities across Cook County.”
With 213 of the 217 constituencies counted, Morrison led with 57.2% of the vote, about 2,800 more votes than Gorman. The 17th District hugs the western border of Cook County and includes all or parts of Orland Park, Tinley Park, Lemont, Palos Township, Hickory Hills, Willow Springs, La Grange, Des Plaines, and other towns.
Gorman also lost the race for Orland Township Republican committee member to Cynthia Nelson Katsenes, who is on Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau’s People Over Politics slate. Nelson Katsenes got 62.2% of the vote, according to unofficial results.
“It took three opponents – Pekau, Morrison and Katsenes – running negative campaigns to defeat me,” Gorman told me. “Despite what they say, I support the Republicans, this is how Pekau and Morrison are in power. And I wish them the best in the upcoming general election.
Ted Slowik is a columnist for the Daily Southtown.