Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Illinois Rep. Halvorson to Challenge Jesse Jackson Jr.

In House on September 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm

A rather surprising announcement came from the Chicago suburbs at the end of last week. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), who lost her congressional seat 43-57 percent to Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-11) after just one term in office, says she will challenge Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) in the 2012 March Democratic primary for his 2nd District seat. Prior to her serving in Congress, Ms. Halvorson was the state Senate majority leader.

This is a curious move and appears to be a long-shot political effort. While the new 2nd district does contain part of the territory Halvorson previously represented, it is overwhelmingly comprised of Jackson’s constituents. In fact, 78.1 percent of the new 2nd’s inhabitants remain from Rep. Jackson’s current district, versus just 21.8 percent of residents from Halvorson’s former 11th CD who are now placed in IL-2. The racial composition is another factor that cuts dramatically in Mr. Jackson’s favor. As many as 55.8 percent of the district population is African-American versus just 29.6 percent who are non-Hispanic White. Hispanics account for 12.8 percent of the population mix, while Asians number less than 1 percent of the voting base.

Favor Jesse Jackson, Jr. to win the Democratic nomination here, but Debbie Halvorson’s entry into the race certainly brings a new twist to this political story.
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