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Jonathan Jackson mulling run for Bobby Rush seat

Jackson told the Sun-Times if he ran, he would have the support of his father, Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson leaves the Trask Worship Center with his son Jonathan following a memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis in June 2020.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson leaves the Trask Worship Center with his son Jonathan following a memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis in June 2020.
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WASHINGTON — More candidates are mulling a Democratic primary run to fill the House seat being vacated by Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., including Jonathan Jackson, who told the Sun-Times on Friday if he ran, it would be with the backing of his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Jackson, 56, said he was “strongly considering” a run in the 1st Congressional District primary. Jackson runs a construction contracting company based in Bronzeville and lives in Jackson Park Highlands, in a home across the street from his parents.

“I will think about it,” he said of a bid for office.

Jackson said the seed for him to run was planted by the Rev. Al Sharpton — Jackson does a weekly segment on Sharpton’s radio show discussing economic issues of interest to the Black community — and they were discussing Rush’s surprise announcement to not seek a 16th term when the potential of his running came up.

His wife, Marilyn Jackson, is the new CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. Jackson said they will have a commuting marriage and he will remain in Chicago.

Jackson will decide about a bid in “the next week or two” and said his father “thinks I am well prepared” for a run. He attended Pershing Elementary School through 6th grade; then Le Mans Academy, a military boarding school in Indiana, and Whitney Young High School. His undergraduate degree is from North Carolina A&T University, with an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Jackson’s older brother, ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., resigned his 2nd Congressional District seat in November 2012, under an ethics cloud. Jesse and his now-former wife, one-time Ald. Sandi Jackson, went to prison in the wake of their looting $750,000 from campaign funds between 2005 and 2012 to pay for a lavish lifestyle and a greedy need for expensive things. The couple pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom in Washington on Feb. 20, 2013.

Rev. Jackson, 80, is the founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Rush endorsed Karin Norington-Reaves on Thursday; former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, D-Ill., the first female Black U.S. senator, is backing Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd). If Jonathan Jackson jumped in the race, he will have the advantage of support from his father, a two-time presidential candidate.

  • State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, registered as a candidate with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night.

Collins was raised in Englewood. She majored in journalism at Northwestern University and holds degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Divinity School. Her law degree is from Loyola University.

  • Nykea Pippion McGriff, vice president of Strategic Growth at Coldwell Banker Real Estate, told me she is giving “very thoughtful consideration” to a run.
  • On Saturday, Stephany Rose Spaulding, an academic, pastor and progressive activist, was at West Pullman Park — and across from the Metcalfe Elementary School she attended — to announce her candidacy.

Spaulding, a Morgan Park High School graduate who lives in West Roseland, said at the event she returned to her native Chicago in January 2020 from Colorado, where she was on the faculty of the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

Her university duties included serving as top officer at the school for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Her academic interests were, according to the university website, studying the “intersections of race, gender, class, religion and equity.” She is a spokesperson for Just Democracy, a coalition of racial justice groups.

She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. Her Ph.D. in American Studies and English is from Purdue. She previously ran for the House and Senate in Colorado and was senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Colorado Springs.

There were already six Democrats in the race before Rush said he would not run again, including community organizer Jahmal Cole, Rev. Christopher Butler and Ameena Matthews, who ran in the 2020 Democratic primary for the seat.

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