Jonathan Jackson, son of civil rights icon Reverend Jesse Jackson, emerged at the head of a group of contenders on Tuesday night to clinch the nomination to succeed U.S. Representative Bobby Rush.
Jackson’s victory over 16 other Democrats in the historic 1st Congressional District puts him as the overwhelming favorite to continue nearly a century of black representation in the seat that stretches from the South Loop to the South Suburbs.
With 81% of the precinct returns, Jackson had 27.5% of the vote to Chicago Ald’s 18.7%. Pat Dowell of the South Side, in the unofficial totals.
In another closely watched primary fight in a heavily Democratic congressional seat, progressive state Rep. Delia Ramirez handily won the moderate Northwest Side Ald. Gilbert Villegas in the new Latino-leaning 3rd District that winds its way from Chicago to DuPage County.
With 96% of the constituency returns, Ramirez had around 66% of the vote against 24% for Villegas, who said he called on Ramirez to concede in the race.
Both Jackson and Ramirez were supported during their campaigns by progressive Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Ramirez has also long enjoyed the support of progressive Southwest Side US Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Ramirez, 39, also had the support of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Also on Tuesday, veteran U.S. Democrat Danny Davis was trying to hold off young progressive challenger Kina Collins in the 7th District, which stretches from the western suburbs on the west side to the south side.
With 87% of the constituency returns, Davis had 51.4% of the vote to Collins’ 46.3%.
If Jackson holds out on Tuesday and wins in November, he will follow his brother, Jesse Jackson Jr., to the House of Representatives.
Jesse Jackson Jr., represented the nearby 2nd congressional district from 1995 to 2012, but resigned while under federal investigation for misusing campaign funds. He later pleaded guilty to wire and mail fraud and was released from prison in March 2015.
Jonathan Jackson enjoyed great name recognition in the district, which helped him in the congested field.
During the campaign trail, Jackson argued that he was in the best position to get things done for the district, pointing to his past work nationally and with members of Congress locally on voter registration and advocacy campaigns. other programs through his father’s Rainbow/PUSH coalition.
In his victory speech, Jackson promised to take the concerns of the South Siders to Washington.
“I want you to know that the south side matters,” he said. “Chicago South Side comes with me. When I win, you win.
The contests in Chicago’s three heavily blue districts — the 1st, 3rd and 7th — will go a long way in shaping the state’s Democratic caucus in Washington for the next two years and likely much longer.
The 1st District features a changing of the guard as several well-known Democrats faced off against a field of 17 primary candidates vying to succeed retired Rush in the seat that has historic political significance for African Americans.
The 3rd district that runs from the northwest side to DuPage County will also elect a new member of the United States House.
The three seats were designed by Illinois Democrats to heavily favor their party, meaning whoever wins Tuesday’s primary will be heavily favored to beat the Republican nominee in the November general election.
The crowded Democratic 1st District field meant candidates were battling for a relatively small slice of the electoral pie.
With the politically unassailable Rush stepping down after three decades, a who’s who of South Side Democrats battled for the seat.
Dowell, the 3rd Ward alderman who pivoted from a run for secretary of state when Rush announced he was not running, appeared to have the second most votes Tuesday in the unofficial totals.
Other candidates included State Senator Jacqueline Collins; business owner Jonathan Swain; activist Jahmal Cole, founder and CEO of My Block, My Hood, My City; Karin Norington-Reaves, federal workforce training manager for Chicago and suburban Cook County; and Nykea Pippion McGriff, real estate agent and former president of the Chicago Association of Realtors.
As the Democratic nominee, Jackson will be well positioned to continue a nearly century-long streak of black 1st District representatives beginning with Oscar DePriest, who in 1928 became the first black elected to Congress in the 20th century and the very first in the North.
Just under half of the district’s residents are black, according to the Illinois Democratic Party.
Many candidates share similar views on issues such as gun control, abortion rights, health care and the economy. So the challenge was to separate from the peloton.
In the Republican primary, Eric Carlson appeared to dominate the other three candidates, Jeffery Regnier, Philanise White and Geno Young.
Carlson, 54, of Lemont, was convicted in 1995 of sexual assault and spent about six years in prison, records show. He will be considered a long shot in November’s general election in the heavily Democratic district.
In the 3rd arrondissement on the northwest side, the field was smaller and the differences between the candidates were somewhat better defined.
Villegas, who represents the 36th ward on the Chicago City Council, is the moderate who has touted his political pragmatism and his ability to work with leaders of different opinions to get things done.
Ramirez pointed to her record in Springfield as evidence she can provide, but she positioned herself as a more progressive candidate who has worked on issues such as defending an elected Chicago school board.
The politics run the gamut in the new district, which Illinois Democrats have called a heavily Democratic and “skinny Latino” congressional seat as the state recalibrates its district boundaries. recognize the continued demographic gains of Latinos in the state.
About 47% of the 3rd Ward’s nearly 754,000 residents are Hispanic, according to the Illinois Democratic Party.
On the east end are progressive Chicago neighborhoods such as Avondale and Logan Square. The borders then meander past Chicago’s traditionally more conservative neighborhoods like Dunning and into the suburbs.
Also in 3rd is much of DuPage County, historically a Republican stronghold that has become more diverse and decidedly bluer in recent elections.
Besides Villegas and Ramirez, Democratic candidates on the ballot include college professor Iymen Chehade and Chicago registered nurse and cannabis entrepreneur Juan Aguirre.
Ramirez will face Republican Justin Burau in the November general election.
The 7th District featured an old-fashioned contest between two West Siders — one a liberal congressional vet and the other a young progressive challenger — to represent a district that spans the western suburbs of Westchester, Bellwood and Oak Park through the west side of the city and east to Lake Michigan, encompassing Streeterville and downtown, before bending south to encompass parts of the South Loop, Bridgeport and Englewood.
Davis, 80, says his decades in Washington make him the obvious choice, recently saying, “If anyone tells you a rookie is as good as a great veteran, they must be crazy!”
Collins retorts “it’s time for a change”.
Collins has been endorsed by several progressive groups, including Justice Democrats, a prominent left-wing political action committee that backed U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York in 2018.
Davis, meanwhile, works closely with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team.
And on Sunday, President Joe Biden announced he was backing Davis in the race. In a press release, Biden highlighted Davis’ work to bring infrastructure investment to the region, “to keep people safe during the pandemic” and to protect civil rights.
Collins also challenged Davis in 2020, garnering about 14% of the Democratic primary vote among four candidates.
The Collins campaign gathered at the Bottom Lounge, a West Loop bar and music venue where she displayed a poster signed by the Strokes for a campaign concert they played in her honor. Collins spent part of the day campaigning with leftist allies such as Aldermen Byron Sigcho-Lopez and Daniel La Spata, a move meant to underscore his progressive bona fides. His campaign also featured a banner highlighting one of his central themes for change: “You deserve better than the status quo.”
In a fiery speech, Collins said she was not conceding defeat but would wait for all the votes to be counted. Collins also criticized the Democratic Party leadership for backing Davis, whom she criticized as being beside himself, and pointed to issues facing the district, from food deserts to gun violence.
“If you have the power to call the Speaker of the House for an endorsement, and the mayor, and the governor, and the lieutenant governor, and the president of the United States, fix what’s going on in our district!” said Collins. “Don’t call (political favors) to be re-elected. Call political favors that (improve) the lives of people in our neighborhood.
Repeating a familiar campaign refrain, Collins said, “Congressman Danny Davis has been my Rep since he was 5 years old. Enough is enough.”
Denarvis Mendenhall, who campaigned very low-key, joined them in the 7th District Democratic ballot this year.
No Republicans ran in the 7th District primary.