Seventeen-year 2nd Congressional District Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. convincingly fended off his most difficult primary challenge ever today against former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson – Jackson is ahead 71% to 28% with 99% of precincts reporting.
Jackson used his victory speech to push one of his long-time projects, a Peotone airport.
The decisive victory comes despite Jackson’s disputed ties with the scandal involving former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich –and a still pending House ethics committee investigation. It also comes in a newly formed 2nd District, which stretches past South Side Chicago into the far south suburbs, like Halvorson’s hometown of Crete.
“This used to be an urban district,” Jackson said at a victory speech tonight at Parkway Ballroom in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. “Now this district is a miniature version of the state of Illinois.”
Most of the speech, though, was about bringing a third Chicagoland airport to Peotone, Illinois. Nationally, Jackson is best known for his father, or his oration, or his alleged ties to the Blagojevich scandal. But for 2nd District constituents, Jackson largely has defined himself by his pursuit of federal, state and private money for this airport.
“Jesse Jr. is not airport obsessed,” Jackson said. “But I’ve been to Washington long enough to know that there is no public works project quite like an airport.”
“With an airport comes a Hyatt, and a Hilton, and a Fairmont, and a Federal Express. For once in my lifetime, I want to be able to catch a cab on the South Side of Chicago.”
Jackson cajoled Gov. Pat Quinn – who presides over a fiscal mess in Springfield – to devote more to the airport. “That airport – and governor I want you to hear me clearly – was designed to give a generation of Americans an opportunity,” Jackson said.
Jackson did address his opponent, crediting Halvorson for making him a “better campaigner.” But for the most part, Jackson returned to charges he made during the campaign that Halvorson did not stand for progressive principles and also voted too often against the Democratic Party during her two years in Congress.
“A real Democrat is someone who votes consistently with Democratic leadership,” Jackson said. “Not someone who votes 88 times with the Republicans in just two years.”
Halvorson contends that Jackson has distorted her record, and sees Jackson as part of a broken political establishment.
Jackson is expected to comfortably win the November general election.
Here is footage of Jackson's victory speech: