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Primary rivals Jackson and Halvorson haggle over loyalty to Obama

U.S. Rep. Jesse JacksJr.  (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast File)

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

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Updated: April 1, 2012 8:13AM

No, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson did not vote against President Barack Obama 88 times — contrary to an ad her opponent, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., is running on African American-oriented radio.

Halvorson held a news conference Tuesday to accuse Jackson of peddling “lies” in his ads.

In fact, Jackson voted against Obama twice as often as Halvorson, according to records compiled by Congressional Quarterly magazine.

Jackson voted against the president more than any other Democrat from Illinois except for Downstate Rep. Jerry Costello, who, like Jackson, voted against Obama 21 percent of the time, according to the CQ statistics for 2010.

“I voted more than 90 percent of the time with the president according to the non-partisan source Congressional Quarterly,” said Halvorson, who is challenging Jackson in the Democratic primary. “He’s lying, and he’s distorting my record and I won’t stand for it. Rep Jackson is not a legislative friend to the president. He opposed almost every one of the president’s job bills.”

Jackson arrived at his number of “88 Times” by counting the number of votes on which he and Halvorson differed during Halvorson’s two years in Congress. Of those 133, Halvorson voted against the wishes of Congressional Democratic leaders 88 times.

But Halvorson said voting against House Democratic leaders is not voting against Obama. For instance, on ethics legislation to sanction Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, Halvorson voted with Republicans for tougher ethics standards. That was not a vote against Obama, she said.

Asked why Jackson’s ad presented that as a vote against Obama, Jackson spokesman Kevin Lampe said, “Democrats have got to stick together in Congress.”

But the fact remains that Obama, according to his spokesman, supports Jackson in this race, even though Jackson voted against him more often than Halvorson.

“They were friends. They were in each other’s wedding. I would expect nothing less,” Halvorson said. “President Obama walked precincts for me on my behalf and helped get me elected in the Illinois state Senate and we were both sworn in together in January of 1997.”

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