Kadner: There are alternatives to Jesse Jackson Jr. in 2nd District
By Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org October 15, 2012 4:34PM
FILE - A May 16, 2011 file photo shows U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Chicago. Jackson's wife said Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, her husband is seeing his doctor two to three times a week and his physician will decide when the congressman returns to work. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Updated: November 17, 2012 6:17AM
Voters who automatically cast Democratic ballots may want to review their options in light of new allegations that have surfaced about U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd).
The Chicago Sun-Times and Wall Street Journal have reported that the federal government has launched a probe into allegations the congressman used campaign funds to spruce up his Washington, D.C., home.
Jackson has not been at work in Congress for months and was treated for a bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic.
He is not actively campaigning for re-election.
Although he remains on the Nov. 6 ballot, rumors persist that Jackson will either withdraw before the election or resign immediately after it.
Jackson’s staff has denied those rumors.
“It’s time people put aside the past, looked beyond race and party, and voted based on what’s best for them,” said Brian Woodworth, the Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District.
Woodworth, a law school graduate who has taught at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, calls himself an “independent Republican.”
Contrary to news media reports that Jackson is a lock to win the district, crafted by the state Democratic Party, Woodworth said people are telling him they’re ready to vote for a new congressman.
“This has all the signs of a bad (romantic) relationship,” Woodworth said. “People yearn for the man they first met who was full of promise.
“They wonder why things can’t be like they used to be with him. But he’s moved on.
“Jackson wanted to become a U.S. senator, and whether or not you believe he had a role in the offer to pay Gov. Blagojevich for the Senate seat, he acknowledges he wanted to be in the Senate.
“Before that, he wanted to run for mayor of Chicago.
“So the signs are clear that he didn’t want to be a congressman any more. You have to seriously question whether his heart is in the job and why it is that voters cling to an old memory of the man that is no longer the reality.”
Woodworth, 41, married with three children, is white and getting no help from the Illinois Republican Party.
“When the state Republican Party leader says this is an unwinnable contest, it does make it difficult to run a campaign,” Woodworth said.
He plans to spend about $4,000 campaigning, mostly his own money, and is out knocking on doors from Chicago to Kankakee.
“I would not immediately vote to reject everything about the Affordable Care Act,” he said.
“We need to do something about health insurance and there may be parts of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) that we can tweak to make them better.
“I am pro-life. If I had to vote on a bill that prohibited abortions in cases of rape and incest, I admit I would have to fall on my knees and ask for guidance. It would be a very difficult thing to actually vote for. But I do believe human life is sacred.”
Woodworth said he believes Jackson focused too much of his energy on creating a south suburban airport.
“I believe there are brownfields in the 10th Ward that could be converted to other uses,” he said.
“We need to look at bringing in alternative energy technologies, not coal-fired plants as the state recently attempted. There’s enough pollution on the South Side of Chicago.”
Woodworth said he would encourage investment in small business start-ups and encourage U.S. corporations that stash their cash overseas to reinvest in this country through tax incentives.
Woodworth also said he would launch training programs for individuals interested in starting businesses, matching them with mentors already in the business arena.
Also on the November ballot in the 2nd Congressional District as an independent candidate is Marcus Lewis, of Matteson.
Lewis, 53, who is black, is a U.S. Postal Service mail handler.
“I’m the common man,” he said. “Unlike Jesse Jackson Jr., I have actually worked for a living, so I know what it’s like to struggle to pay the heating bill.”
Lewis, who acknowledged filing for bankruptcy twice, said, “No one ever mentions I paid back all the money I owed.”
Lewis said that contrary to media reports that Jackson Jr. can’t lose the election, “Voters tell me they’re fed up.”
Lewis said he is pro-choice when it comes to abortion and sympathizes with Democrats on most issues.
“I believe we need a WPA-type project to put people back to work,” he said.
Lewis said college-bound students need student grants, not student loans.
“We’re cannibalizing our young people,” he said. “They graduate college and come out owing $20,000, $40,000, $50,000 and can’t get a job.
“The government is eating our young people to feed the Treasury.”
Lewis said he opposes building a south suburban airport.
“I would work out a deal with Indiana to expand the Gary International Airport provided they give us construction jobs and funds to attract high-tech industries to the south suburbs,” he said.
“Gary is only 15 minutes away from the south suburbs. If it expands, there will be economic benefits to this region.”
Lewis said he will spend about $3,500 on the campaign out of his own pocket.
“You don’t need yard signs and campaign literature,” he said. “I have a website. People can find out about me.
“They want to put someone in office who is more like themselves, not a millionaire who flies his girlfriend from Washington to Chicago.
“Jackson could end up indicted before Election Day. He’s under investigation by the FBI, the House Ethics Committee, and now there are reports he was out with women at a Washington, D.C. bar when he said he was too sick to go to work.
“The news media should be telling people to vote for someone else.”
Also running in the congressional race as a write-in candidate is the Rev. Anthony Williams, 57, pastor of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Robbins.