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

Napoleon Harris, Lenny McAllister and Mel Reynolds

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

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

Published January 8, 2013

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.

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Written by Joyce Jones


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