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Will County Republicans taking aim at Jesse Jackson Jr.

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Updated: November 22, 2012 6:32AM



JOLIET — Will County Republicans are calling on local Democrats to withdraw their support from embattled U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

As Jackson is reportedly heading back to the Mayo Clinic for treatment of bipolar depression and two investigations swirl around him, local Democrats have to make a decision, said Cory Singer, a Frankfort Republican and Will County board member who is running for county executive against incumbent Democrat Larry Walsh.

“We want to know if (members of the) Will County Democratic Party ... continue to support Congressman Jackson for re-election,” Singer said. “Are they choosing Congressman Jackson or are they going to choose Will County? Do they believe, in light of all these (investigations), that Mr. Jackson is still a good representative for Will County?”

It’s a question of loyalty, said Republican attorney Dave Carlson, who is running for state’s attorney against incumbent Democrat Jim Glasgow.

“Who are our public servants loyal to?” he said. “Are they loyal to us, the residents and the voters of Will County, or are they loyal to Chicago politics, the Chicago political machine?”

Will County Democratic Party Chairman Scott Pyles said the party supports all of its candidates and would not withdraw support from someone due to illness.

“The Democrats are not going to withdraw our support if one of our elected officials has a medical condition and is receiving treatment for it,” Pyles said.

As to the federal investigations, Pyles said there isn’t a lot of concrete information about the probes that is being released.

“If information comes to light regarding actions taken by Congressman Jackson that needs to be looked at, we can certainly re-evaluate at that time,” he said.

Singer and other Republicans said local Democrats should take a stand now on Jackson (D-Chicago), who would represent a much larger chunk of eastern Will County if he wins re-election on Nov. 6.

Area newspapers have reported that Jackson is a “shoo-in” for re-election in the 2nd District, in spite of all of his personal and legal troubles, Singer said.

“The only reason he would be a shoo-in for re-election is if the Democratic Party continues to support him,” Singer said.

Singer said Jackson’s mental illness alone isn’t the reason he should step off the ballot.

“A lot of people struggle with mental illnesses,” Singer said. “But I would argue that most of the people who have mental illness are not under investigation by the U.S. House Ethics Committee, they’re not under investigation by the U.S. ... attorneys.”

Jackson has been absent from work for many months, “and he has not taken steps to address this in the media or with his constituents,” Singer said during a press conference Friday morning in front of the Will County Courthouse.

Will County Democrats also were criticized for not standing with eastern Will County residents when Jackson held a mock groundbreaking for the south suburban airport near Peotone, a project that Jackson had been fighting with county officials to control.

“When Jackson came out for that ‘people’s groundbreaking,’ they weren’t there,” said Republican county board candidate Judy Ogalla, who is vice president of Shut This Airport Nightmare Down, an airport opposition group.

“They weren’t there fighting with us against Jesse Jackson Jr.,” she added. “And it just shows where their alliances are.”

Walsh and Glasgow, two Democrats called out specifically by the Republicans, did not want to comment on Friday.

Jackson reportedly is the subject of a federal investigation for alleged misuse of campaign funds. He also is the subject of a House ethics probe into his actions with regard to the U.S. Senate seat vacancy created when Barack Obama was elected president.



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