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Danny Davis and Bobby L. Rush visit Jackson before he re-enters Mayo Clinic

U.S. Rep. Jesse JacksJr. (2nd District)

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (2nd District)

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Updated: November 24, 2012 6:24AM

As U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is preparing to re-enter Mayo Clinic, political experts are predicting he will win re-election by a landslide.

That’s amazing when you consider that save for a robocall last week, Jackson hasn’t personally reached out to the public since dropping out of sight in June. It was weeks before voters in the 2nd District learned that their congressman was being treated for “bipolar disorder, first at a facility in Arizona and later at Mayo Clinic.”

On Monday, fellow Reps. Danny Davis and Bobby L. Rush went to Jackson’s home to lay eyes on him for themselves.

“We just decided we would go and see him and let him know he was in our thoughts and in our prayers, and that we were hoping the best for him and his family and for the decisions that his health would dictate and permit him to make relative to how he can best serve the constituents of the 2nd Congressional District,” Davis told me as he waited for a flight back to Chicago.

Davis, a veteran of Chicago politics from the ward office to the D.C. House, has witnessed all kinds of political upheavals.

It is not surprising that he went to Washington to visit Jackson and planned to hold a news conference afterward.

According to Davis, Jackson was already packed and ready to leave for Mayo Clinic when he and Rush arrived at the Jacksons’ Washington home.

“We were pleased to note that the congressman was lighthearted at times, light-spirited, and also seriously concerned and remorseful at times in terms of the dilemma that he and his constituents find themselves in,” Davis said.

“I think there is the potential that he will recover. He needs some additional time to do so, and not a lot is going on legislatively between now and the time when we will be coming back with a new Congress. Who knows by then? Maybe his doctors will feel that he is well enough to be engaged,” Davis said.


But anyone who has a loved one with a bipolar disorder knows how quickly blue skies can turn gray. Given that Jackson is facing federal scrutiny with respect to his House spending account and is still on the hook with the House Ethics Committee, I don’t see him bouncing back anytime soon.

If Jackson decides to step down, the state would have to hold a special election, which means people are probably already sizing up Jackson’s seat.

“You cannot appoint a U.S. representative. The reasoning is that the framers of the Constitution decided that somebody needed to be close to the people. Somebody needs to really represent the people of the district,” Davis said.

“Jackson does recognize it and he talked about it. That is why he did the robocall the other day. He also recognizes that if his health is not in a position where he can do the kind of job that he ought to be doing, where he can make the kind of decisions that he ought to be making, then he would be doing his constituents a disservice rather than a service.

“It has put people between a rock and a hard place. I think the interest of the constituents is paramount in his mind. How does he complete what he started?”

For instance, Jackson’s signature issue — the third airport and its job creation — is still out there.

“I feel for him. I have a great deal of empathy for his plight and situation. I pray it works itself out,” Davis said.

Most people in Jackson’s district will worry more about a Republican getting elected than Jackson’s mental health.

But political schemes won’t spare Jackson the stresses that likely helped trigger his bipolar disorder.

Unfortunately, like many of us, Jackson is looking for redemption in a world that relishes a fall.

There’s no shame in mental illness. But there’s a lot of shame in the political shenanigans that brought a distinguished congressman to this place.

I hope Jackson finds a way to ignore the noise around him so he can hear his own voice.

That’s the only way he’ll find the peace he needs to heal.

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