Political Analyst: Jackson Likely to Win Election by 'Wide Margin'
Despite U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s recent two-month medical leave and eventual bipolar disorder diagnosis, Dick Simpson says the congressman will probably still keep his seat.
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will win the November election with well over 50 percent of the vote regardless of a mysterious medical leave and diagnosis of bipolar disorder, said a leading Chicago-area political analyst.
The 2nd District congressman has been far from the campaign trail for the past two months, spending a good amount of time at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, but that won't stop him from keeping his seat, according Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"Assuming that he does come back in September and make a few appearances, which it appears he will, he’ll win the election in November," Simpson said in a phone interview.
Last week, Jackson's Chief of Staff Rick Bryant told the Associated Press the congressman could return in a matter of weeks, putting him back in action come early September.
Simpson attributed his prediction partly to Jackson having weak opposition, such as Republican candidate Brian Woodworth. He cited Jackson's big victory over veteran Debbie Halvorson in April as proof of the congressman's continuing political strength.
"He won the primary by 75 percent against a former congresswoman with a strong base," Simpson said. "If he can defeat a major candidate, he will defeat the minor candidates he is facing in the general election."
Simpson said Jackson still may not be out of the woods. The results of the congressional ethics investigation and the bribery trial of Raghuveer Nayak, Jackson's former fundraiser, could have a major effect on Jackson's political career, according to Simpson.
A lot will also hinge on how Jackson handles the bipolar disorder diagnosis, according to the elections expert.
"If he took up a reasonable role in Congress, he ought to be likely to continue," Simpson said. "His own choices, his health and the ethics committee investigation could affect him."
Some voters have said Jackson's medical leave and poor communication regarding it will lose him votes.
"He should have come forward from the get-go," said Ramie Formentini-Zara on a Patch Facebook page. "I don't trust him anymore. He will not get my vote."
Faith Nichols also took to Facebook to criticize Jackson's handling of the situation. "He just disappeared without a word or without putting someone in his place to represent his district," she said.
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