Updated: December 28, 2012 6:27AM
The 10 phone lines at state Senator-elect Napoleon Harris’ office in Harvey ring non-stop Monday as constituents in the 15th District want to know if he’s going to run for the congressional seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr.
After much deliberation, Harris has made a decision.
“I’m running,” Harris told the Sun-Times. “The primary reason I chose to run for the state Senate is the heartbeat and the pulse of my constituents. But over the last few months, we’ve gotten overwhelming support to put my name in the ring for the congressional seat.”
A native of Dixmoor, Harris starred at Thornton Township High School then at Northwestern University. A first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2002, he played seven NFL seasons, most notably starting in Super Bowl XXXVII. The owner of two Beggars Pizza franchises in the area, Harris wanted to return to his community, where many of his relatives still live.
Harris’ field director James Jones said the inquiries about his interest in the congressional seat started coming since Thanksgiving and ramped up Monday, when he estimated that there were 500 phone calls to their office. Late Monday, just before 5 p.m., retired real estate agent Erick Hawthorne called to volunteer to help Harris.
“Instead of sending him to Springfield, why not send him to Washington?” said Hawthorne, a resident of Flossmoor who voted for Harris in the state Senate election. “We have a lot of corruption going on, and that’s an understatement.
“I want to get behind him and push him forward.”
Added Barron Brown of Riverside, “He’s a brilliant young man, and he’s done a lot for our community.
“That’s why I’d vote for him.”
Location does matter for Harris.
Over 90 percent of the 15th District is in the 2nd congressional district.
Harris, though, has nothing but respect for Jackson.
“First and foremost, Jesse Jackson Jr. has been a great congressman, and I would love to continue to do the great work that the congressman has started and completed over the last 17 years,” Harris said. “Words can’t really express how instrumental he has been in bringing federal dollars back to our community, and he’s been a role model, a pillar politically.
“Everyone has their valleys, and my prayer and hope is that the congressman rebounds and is remembered for the great work he’s done.”