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Jesse Jackson Jr. Staying on Ballot Despite Mental Illness

Sat., Aug. 4, 2012 8:32 AM EST
by Terry Shropshire

Jesse Jackson Jr.'s rival for Chicago's congressional seat, Brian Woodworth

Jesse Jackson Jr., the second-half of a family political dynasty, will remain in the race to retain his congressional seat in Chicago, despite the recent revelations stating that he is being treated for a mental illness.

Jackson (D-Ill.) is holed up in the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he has been for the last couple of months, recovering from a bout of deep depression.

“The campaign is continuing to go forward,” Kevin Lampe told The Root. Lampe is a Democratic political consultant who is working with Jackson on his re-election campaign and serves as an adviser to his wife, Sandi Jackson, the 7th Ward alderman on Chicago’s South Side.

No one from Jackson’s team or family point to a date as to when the congressman will return to the campaign trail.

The situation is being closely watched by Jackson’s Republican challenger for the same congressional seat, Brian Woodworth. Jackson already resoundingly defeated Debbie Halvorson, a former congresswoman, back in March.

Thus far, Ken Menzel, the deputy counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections, says Jackson still has time to recover, but not that much time. “He is the Democratic nominee,” Menzel said. “He was nominated during the primary. If he does nothing, we will prepare for the November election with his name on the ballot unless he takes affirmative action to withdraw.”

Jackson would have until Aug. 24 to withdraw his nomination. In the interim, the political leaders in the Windy City have erected an impregnable fortress around the beleaguered Jackson, including newly-elected mayor Rahm Emanuel, that has prevented the leaks of damaging or compromising information from reaching the press.

“I don’t know the severity of his illness, but his office still functions,” said George Arzt, a former press secretary to New York Mayor Ed Koch. “People in general will give him time to heal.”

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