Twenty-two File to Fill Seat Vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr.

Seventeen Democrats and five Republicans hope to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress.

From left: Napoleon Harris, Lenny McAllister and Mel Reynolds. (Photos from left: Getty Images;  Facebook and AP Photo/Fred Jewell, File)

A crowded field of 17 Democrats and five Republicans met the Jan. 7 deadline to make official their bids to fill the seat vacated by former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Jackson, who easily won re-election in November, resigned that same month to seek treatment for bipolar disorder. He also was facing a federal investigation into allegations that he'd misused campaign funds.

Democrats seeking to replace him include former NFL player Napoleon Harris; former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, an ex-convict whom, ironically, Jackson replaced after Reynolds' own brush with scandal; South Side Chicago pastor Victor Jonathan; and a host of current and former Chicago politicians.

Running on the Republican side are two African-Americans: Lenny McAllister, a TV and radio commentator, and Eric Wallace, founder and former chairman of the African-American Republican Council of Illinois.

"People understand that there can actually be a moderate Republican that can talk to Black America, but can also feel comfortable on Capitol Hill," McAllister told the Chicago Sun-Times.

But according to one political analyst, a key deciding factor in the race will be how much money each candidate can raise and how wisely he or she spends it.

"There's no question that fund-raising is important," political analyst Don Rose told the Sun-Times. "Nobody has a district-wide reputation so they simply [have] to get their message out. Money is a substantial part of the ballgame."
A special primary will be held on Feb. 26, followed by a general election on April 9.

BET Politics - Your source for the latest news, photos and videos illuminating key issues and personalities in African-American political life, plus commentary from some of our liveliest voices. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.