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Editorial: Allow Jackson district to make real choice

Jesse Jackson Jr. finally did the right thing on Wednesday.

It’s been clear for months that Jackson, battling mental illness and a federal investigation into his campaign spending, was not prepared to re-enter public life.

Next up are Chicago-area Democrats.

Jackson’s resignation leaves a safe Democrat seat that will be up for grabs in a special election in the coming months.

May the best candidate win — not the one pre-ordained by Democratic power brokers.

Voters elected Jackson on Nov. 6. A few days later — conveniently for Jackson and his fellow Democrats — they learned he was knee-deep in plea negotiations with the feds. Hats off to the Sun-Times reporters who were the first to report a few weeks before the election that federal investigators had launched a probe into Jackson’s finances.

Voters in Jackson’s district need a chance to make a real choice. The Democratic powers owe it to them to make sure that happens.

In his resignation letter, Jackson acknowledged the federal probe for the first time and said he accepted responsibility for “my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone.” In other words, Jackson is to blame for his own downfall.

Saying that brings us no pleasure.

We have great sympathy for a man in considerable pain. A source told Sun-Times reporters that Jackson had planned a news conference to announce his retirement but “he couldn’t stop crying, so he couldn’t,” the source said.

We have been among the congressman’s admirers. We liked how to went to bat for a third airport, his tenacious advocacy for people in the Southland, how he carved out a space for himself separate from his famous father.

Jackson in his letter said he prayed he would be “remembered for what I did right.”

Indeed, Jackson accomplished much to be proud of. With the passage of time, he will undoubtedly and justly be remembered for it.

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