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No agreement for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s replacement

State Sen. Donne Trotter speaks before Democratic committeemen slate candidate for 2nd Congressional District electiSouth Suburban College South HollIll. Saturday

State Sen. Donne Trotter speaks before Democratic committeemen slate a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District election at South Suburban College in South Holland, Ill., on Saturday, December 15, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 17, 2013 6:53AM



No one gained an edge in the race to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in the 2nd Congressional District Saturday after local Democratic leaders failed to endorse a single candidate.

Jackson, who has been treated for bipolar disorder since June, resigned in November under the cloud of a federal investigation. A special primary election for his seat will be held Feb. 26 and a general election for the seat is set for April 9.

Sixteen candidates showed up to the slating meeting at South Suburban College in South Holland. A board of Cook County Democratic committeemen as well as the Democratic chairmen from Will County and Kankakee County asked questions and listened to each candidate speak for a few minutes.

Each board member received a weighted vote based on the number of people who voted in the 2nd District Democratic primary election in March.

Thornton Township Democratic committeeman Frank Zuccarelli had about 25 percent of the weighted vote and also voted as the proxy for Jackson’s wife, committeewoman and Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th), who did not show up.

While the board was unable to come to a consensus after 90 minutes of deliberations, Zuccarelli said the competition was narrowed down to five finalists.

He would not disclose the vote totals for the candidates for what he claimed was the sake of party unity.

Zuccarelli threw his voting heft behind Illinois state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), saying that he accomplished more in Springfield in 20 years than all the state representatives and senators combined.

Trotter, who is facing felony gun charges, did not address his pending criminal trial before the board and played up his work as a lawmaker in Springfield.

Bloom Township committeeman Terry Mathews told Trotter that it would make more sense for him to stay in the Illinois Senate, where he can accomplish the most.

“I don’t disagree with you that I’m great,” Trotter said to laughter.

Trotter spoke to reporters once the board went into closed session and said he was called into the meeting and asked about his gun charges. He told them the case was continued to Jan. 17 and they asked no further questions.

Trotter denied calling his fellow white lawmakers in Springfield a racially charged word last month at the Roseland Business Development Council banquet.

Chicago Ald. and committeewoman Leslie Hairston (5th) questioned why state Senate-elect Napoleon Harris (D-Flossmoor) was already running for congress when he hadn’t served a day in elected office.

Harris, who played in the 2003 Super Bowl for the Oakland Raiders, said his residents asked him to run.

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) was the only candidate to circle around Jackson’s resignation.

“This is a very difficult time for all of us,” Hutchinson said. “All of us have been through a lot.”

Former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson was the only white candidate to show up to the slating. She promised to continue ushering in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, which she voted for.

“When I lost to a Tea Party candidate in 2010 (Adam Kinzinger), the Republicans tried to repeal health care 31 times,” Halvorson said. “That’s ridiculous.”

Robin Kelly, former state representative and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s former chief administrative officer, cited her work leading the “biggest bureau of the county.”

Chicago Ald. and committeeman Anthony Beale (9th) was the first candidate to speak. Since he was running for the congressional seat, he could not participate in closed-door sessions.



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