Our View: No lack of interest in Jesse’s job
SouthtownStar editorial December 6, 2012 10:36PM
Updated: January 8, 2013 6:24AM
Another day, another candidate declaring their intent to seek the 2nd Congressional District seat vacated recently by Jesse Jackson Jr.
We’ve lost track of how many have said they’re running and won’t know for sure until the Jan. 7 filing deadline. But it’s now about 15 or so, including some whom we’ve never heard of and who have about as much chance of heading to Congress as they do of winning Powerball.
Speaking of that, being elected to a politically safe House seat, such as the 2nd District, is like hitting the political jackpot. The great majority of the district’s voters are Democrats, so the Feb. 26 Democratic primary is the real election. The winner — assuming he or she can stay out of legal trouble, unlike their predecessors — could keep the post for many years (Jackson held it for 17).
Despite Congress’ approval rating being at an all-time low (only about 10 percent of Americans give it a thumbs-up), being a member of Congress is a cushy gig. House members do have that bothersome rule about having to run for re-election every two years. But the pay is great ($174,000 annual salary; $193,400 for leadership posts), the medical and pension benefits are world-class, you get to take all-expenses-paid trips as part of “fact-finding delegations” and there are lots of other perks for being a Very Important Politician.
This Democratic cast has some, shall we say, quirks. The three strongest women candidates are friends and have close political ties, but that’s not stopping each from trying to elbow the others out. A top candidate, state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), spent a night in jail this week after trying to get on a jet plane with a handgun and ammo in his travel bag.
But that brush with the law was nothing compared to Mel Reynolds, a convicted sex offender who had to resign the 2nd District seat in 1995, spent about eight years in prison and wants voters to give him another chance.
The race shapes up as a free-for-all and great political theater. If nothing else, it’ll be fun to watch.