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State Sen. Donne Trotter speaks before Democratic committeemen slate candidate for 2nd Congressional District electiSouth Suburban College South HollIll. Saturday

State Sen. Donne Trotter speaks before Democratic committeemen slate a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District election at South Suburban College in South Holland, Ill., on Saturday, December 15, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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The race to replace US. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr (D-2nd) is wide open after a collection of Cook County Democratic leaders failed to endorse a single candidate on Saturday.

Jackson, who has been treated in and out of hospitals since June, resigned in November under the cloud of a federal investigation. A special primary election for his seat will be held Feb. 26 and a general election for the seat is scheduled for April 9.

15-OR-16? candidates showed up to the slating meeting held at South Suburban College in South Holland. A board of Cook County committeeman as well as Democratic chairman from Will County and Kankakee listed to the speakers listened to the speeches.

Each candidate was given a few minutes to introduce themselves, answer questions from the Democratic leaders, and give a closing statement.

Thornship Township Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli, who had about 20 percent of the weighted vote, said after about 90 minutes of deliberations that the board was unable to settle on a single candidate.

He would not disclose the vote totals for the candidates for what he claimed was the sake of party unity.

Zuccarelli threw his support behind Illinois State Sen. Donnie Trotter (D-Chicago). He also voted as the proxy for Jackson’s wife, Sandi, who did not show up to the event.

Trotter, who is facing felon gun charges, did not address his pending criminal trial but told the audience that “you may have been hearing things about who Donnie Trotter is.”

He played up his work as a lawmaker in Springfield.

“If you’re not sitting on the table, you must be on the menu,” Trotter said. “I’ve ordered great things on the menu for our community.”

In a HUMOROUS exchange, Bloom Township Commiteeman Terry Mathews told Trotter that it would make more sense for him to stay in the Illinois Senate, where he does the most good.

“I don’t disagree with you that I’m great,” Trotter said.

Not everyone enjoyed as smooth of a time at the podium. 5th ward committeeman Leslie Hairston questioned why Illinois State Sen. Elect Napolean Harris (D-Flossmoor) was already running for congress when he hadn’t served a day in elected office.

Harris, who played in the WHAT YEAR Super Bowl for the Oakland Raiders, said his residents asked him to run.

“I have an obligation that people have bestowed upon me,” Harris said. “I’llstill be serving the people of the 15th district. i believe I can serve them on a federal level as well.”

The special primary election is scheduled Feb. 26 and given the strong Democratic makeup of the new district, it is tantamount to winning the office. The general election is scheduled April 9.

U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush (D-1st) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) announced their endorsement of Michael Hastings in his race against Gregory Hannon for the Democratic nomination for the 19th District state senate seat.

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