Jesse Jackson Jr. Faces Criticism for Supporter's “Satanic” Comment

The longtime congressman from the Chicago area faces sharp criticism from his opponent in the Democratic primary.

Posted: 02/22/2012 11:18 AM EST
Jesse Jackson Jr.

There are sparks flying in the Democratic primary for the congressional seat held by United States Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.

Jackson is being criticized by Debbie Halvorson, his challenger in the Democratic primary, for not denouncing comments made by a minister supporting Jackson who said that she was being supported by “demonic forces.”

The harsh words reflect the tension in the race between Jackson, an incumbent who has served in Congress since 1995, and Halvorson, a former Congresswoman who is offering the congressman the first spirited competition he has faced in years.

There are also decidedly racial overtones to the contest. The district, now represented by the son of the noted Black civil rights leader whose name he bears, has been represented by Black incumbents for three decades. Halvorson, who is white, represented the adjoining 11th Congressional District until she was defeated by a Republican, Adam Kinzinger, in 2010.

"Desperate politicians do desperate things to save their own jobs,” Halvorson wrote in an email “And right now, Congressman Jackson is desperately trying to save his job. After 17 years of putting himself before the people and failing to deliver, the people want change," Halvorson wrote in an email.

She is a longtime state senator who served one term in Congress, from 2007 to 2009, in an adjacent district to Jackson’s. However, after the state’s congressional districts were redrawn this year, she decided to oppose Jackson in Illinois’s newly drawn 2nd Congressional District.

The controversy arose after a prayer breakfast of more than 50 ministers who are supporters of Congressman Jackson. One of them, the Rev. Willie James Campbell of the St. James Ministries Church of God in Christ, said that "every obstacle and every yoke" on Jackson's re-election bid "has been prepared by Satanic forces."

Jackson has faced a series of embarrassing headlines in recent years. They include a congressional ethics investigation as well as accusations that his supporters sought to pay convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich for Jackson's appointment to the United States Senate once held by President Obama, and revelations about marital infidelity.

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(Photo: YURI GRIPAS/Landov)

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