Jesse Jackson Jr. ‘very, very sorrowful,’ Rep. Bobby Rush says
BY LISA DONOVAN Staff Reporteremail@example.com
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U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) says he learned his friend and colleague Jesse Jackson Jr. was resigning during an early morning phone call.
First Rush talked to “the father” — the Rev. Jesse Jackson — before talking to the son.
“He just said, ‘Bobby I’m not going to be with you anymore. I can’t carry this thing through,’ and that was it,” Rush told reporters at a downtown Chicago news conference about his phone conversation with Jackson Jr.
They talked hours before Jackson’s resignation was official.
“He sounded very, very sorrowful,” Rush said, shrugging his shoulders when asked where Jackson Jr. is.
Rush met Jackson, now 47, as a toddler crawling on the floor of the family home.
“I just find it is so painful at this point for me not only to know he won’t be in the Congress but to know he is still struggling with a serious very serious mental health issue,” Rush said, standing with Congressman Danny Davis (D-Ill).
In October, Rush and Davis met with Jackson at his home in Washington, D.C. When they returned to Chicago, they called a news conference to ask the media and the public to give Jackson some time to heal.
On Wednesday, both dismissed the idea that the voting public had somehow been “duped” into voting for him, believing he would return to work after having that time to heal.
“I don’t think that anybody’s been duped,” Rush said. “This is a process that nobody really knew exactly what was going to happen. I don’t think he knew what was going to happen. And I think that we were all prayerful and optimistic that he would be able to recover and that the other issues . . . before him — that those issues would not affect him that much. I don’t know about the other issues, I still don’t know about the other issues.”
The “issues” Rush referred to include the federal probe into Jackson’s campaign accounts, something Jackson acknowledged in his resignation letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
Rush also said that people should think differently about the timing of Jackson’s decision to step down.
Had he resigned in the few short months leading up to this month’s election, it would have been up to the Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios and party bosses to find a replacement for the Democratic nominee.
In a Democratic-leaning district that stretches from the South Side to the suburbs, that’s tantamount, Rush suggested, to picking his replacement.
Now candidates can throw their hat in the ring, Rush said, and voters will have a chance to cast ballots in a primary and general election to pick a successor.
“His resignation could . . . mean that rather than have some kind of backroom deal cut among a few individuals to choose who was going to be the next representative, they’ll let the people of the 2nd Congressional District make that choice.”
Rush cautioned that too many Democrats jumping in to the candidate pool could actually weaken the party and pave the way for a Tea Party nominee to win the race.
Noting that Jackson had been a voice for a still unrealized plan to open a third airport in the region, Davis called Jackson’s exit a “sad day” locally and for “America.”
“America is losing out of the halls of Congress one of its most able, most articulate and most clear voices,” Davis said.
When the voters might hear from Jackson again was unclear.
“He’s a little intimidated by this,” Rush said, referring to holding a news conference with reporters asking lots of questions. “He [doesn’t] think he can handle you guys. When he gets healthy enough, I think he’ll come forward and having something to say.”