FILE - In this May 16, 2011 file photo, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. attends ceremonies for Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel in Chicago. Days after Jackson was released from a hospital where he was being treated for bipolar disorder, itís still unclear when heíll return to work. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Updated: December 19, 2012 3:56PM
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. — not heard from since June — being treated for bipolar disorder and depression — and facing a new federal probe — is sending an automated phone message to his constituents over the weekend, pleading for patience before the election, speaking out about his condition for the first time.
“Like many human beings, a series of events came together in my life at the same time and they have been difficult to sort through. I am human. I am doing my best. I am trying to sort through them all,” Jackson says in the call.
He adds, “I am starting to heal. The good news is my health is improving, but my doctors tell me the road to recovery is a long one. For nearly 18 years I have served the people of the second district, I am anxious to return to work on your behalf, but at this time it is against medical advice, and while I will always give my all to my constituents, I ask for your continued patience as I work to get my health back.”
Jackson does not make an appeal for a vote as he looks toward the future: “With your help, your patience, and God’s grace, we will continue to work together to strengthen our communities, provide a better future for our children and leave the world a better than we found it,” he said.
Kevin Lampe, Jackson’s spokesman, told me Jackson recorded the message on Friday, with calls going out to constituents in the second congressional district on Friday and Saturday.
The campaign is paying for the call — which Jackson recorded because “he wanted to talk directly to his constituents,” Lampe said. The robo call for now amounts to Jackson’s entire general election campaign. While Election Day is 16 days away as of Sunday, early voting starts in Illinois on Monday.
Jackson had returned to his home in Washington, D.C. — not his Chicago residence — to convalesce last September after being released from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he was a patient for most of the summer. In the call, Jackson speaks in a monotone and with little animation.
He recently found himself the subject of stories about his whereabouts when he was seen in a D.C. bar and near the entry steps of his DuPont Circle home.
More problematic for him is a new federal probe of his finances, disclosed by Sun-Times political writer Natasha Korecki.
With all this going on, it now seems unlikely that Jackson will surface in the public before Election Day. Jackson is on his way back to the Mayo Clinic for treatment; he’s not there yet, I am told.
Though Jackson is saddled with considerable baggage, Republican Brian Woodworth has yet to muster a major challenge and independent Marcus Lewis presents only nominal opposition. Jackson is expected to be re-elected from the heavily Democratic district.
“I thought it was kind of strange that he would put all his business on a pre-recorded call,” Denise Jackson, 56, of South Holland told Sun-Times reporter Kara Spak. “It took me back a little bit.”
Jackson, no relation, said Friday night’s phone call didn’t sway her vote one way or another.
“I was going to vote for him and it didn’t change,” she said. “He’s sick right now. I know he has not been in office since June, but I feel he’ll be better after a while and he’ll be able to resume his responsibilities.”