Jockeying under way to replace Rep. Jackson Jr.

Associated Press Modified: November 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm •  Published: November 22, 2012

Longtime Chicago political strategist Thom Serafin said that makes Rush's doom-and-gloom prediction of a split field leading to a tea party victory highly unlikely.

Serafin said that because of the truncated election process, candidates who already are in office, are organized, and have shown they can raise money have the advantage. Those include longtime Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale, whose ward is in the district, and Alderman Will Burns, a former state representative.

"There's little doubt based on the district's history that a Democrat will be elected here," Serafin said. "The big question is who can organize and 'show me' they're the real deal? It's much simpler for someone who has been in the game for some time to put that together."

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson said she is weighing a bid. So is former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who represented another district in Congress for one term before losing re-election in 2010. Halvorson was Jackson's first credible challenger in years when she ran a spirited campaign against him in the March primary.

"It looks like a lot of egos are jockeying for positions right now," Halvorson said. "I'm the only one who had the nerve to run against him. They need someone who is going to step in from day one."

Chicago attorney Sam Adam Jr. also has said he'd be interested. Adam is a recognizable face and name, having represented Blagojevich in his first trial in 2010, when the former governor was convicted on one count and the jury deadlocked on the remaining counts. Adam also was R. Kelly's lawyer when the singer was acquitted on child pornography charges.

Jackson's brother, Jonathan Jackson, and his wife Sandi Jackson — who currently serves as an alderman representing a part of the district — also have been mentioned, though neither has commented on a possible run.

Serafin said the Jackson name could draw a strong base of voters to the polls. If roughly 135,000 to 200,000 voters turn out and the field is split between multiple candidates, that base could be enough, he said.

Among the other possibilities are Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and state senator-elect Napoleon Harris, who played in the NFL and owns two pizza franchises. His campaign aide, Curtis Thompson, told The Chicago Sun-Times Harris was taking the holidays to think about it.

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Associated Press reporters Michael Tarm and Sophia Tareen contributed to this report.