Jonathan Jackson, Delia Ramirez declare victory, bringing new blood to Illinois’ congressional delegation

The Democrats campaigned on progressive platforms to win districts that were redrawn after the 2020 U.S. Census.

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State Rep. Delia Ramirez and Jonathan Jackson will represent Chicago-area districts in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times, Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Complete coverage of the local and national primary and general election, including results, analysis and voter resources to keep Chicago voters informed.

Two Democrats from Chicago appear to be headed to Congress after claiming victory Tuesday — a North Sider becoming the first Latina in the Illinois delegation and a South Sider, whose brother previously held a congressional seat.

State Rep. Delia Ramirez and businessman Jonathan Jackson, son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, both campaigned on progressive platforms to win districts that were changed after the 2020 U.S. Census. The Associated Press has called both races, but their opponents haven’t conceded.

Ramirez was leading Republican Justin Burau in the 3rd Congressional District race with over 74% of the votes tallied, holding nearly 67%. The seat was left open when state legislators redrew the district’s boundaries, creating a second district with a large Latino base. It now includes portions of the West and Northwest sides and stretches to the far western suburbs.

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State Rep. Delia Ramirez smiles as she votes at Stowe Elementary School in Humboldt Park.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

In a statement, Ramirez said the redistricting “presented us with a historic opportunity to expand Latino representation in Illinois.”

“We have done this and broken a glass ceiling for Latinas throughout the entire Midwest,” she said after hosting an election night party in Warrenville. “We delivered this victory by campaigning on an unapologetically progressive platform, and a deep commitment to representing the needs of working people in Congress.”

Ramirez became the first Guatemalan American elected to the state legislature in 2018 and easily won her congressional primary. She vowed to address climate change, protect reproductive rights and support undocumented immigrants.

Burau, a Winfield native who ran unopposed in the primary, is a businessman-turned-real estate broker who has said “failed representation” and “the current political climate” pushed him to run.

“Delia declared victory 10 seconds after the primary,” he said in a text message after being asked if he had conceded. “Delia’s campaign never shared her contact information.”

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Jonathan Jackson, left, with his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, wait to fill out ballots at the Dr. Martin Luther King Service Center.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

During a party at the South Shore Cultural Center, Jackson celebrated his victory over Republican Eric Carlson in the 1st Congressional District race. Jackson had collected more than 64% of the vote, with nearly 78% of votes counted.

After U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush passed Jackson an African statue representing solidarity that he said was “more symbolic than a torch,” Jackson vowed to carry on his father’s legacy.

“On this day, I can watch my father see that I want to be just like him, and carry his name and good works forward,” Jackson told the crowd.

Jackson’s father is a two-time presidential candidate who has remained a powerful political activist and civil rights leader. His brother, Jesse Jackson Jr., was previously elected to Congress but resigned under a cloud in 2012 and was later convicted of misappropriating campaign funds.

The 1st Congressional District centers on the South Side and was redrawn to include a narrow section that stretches from the city through the south suburbs almost to Kankakee. Carlson, a former U.S. Army Ranger who now runs nonprofits, insisted that Jackson’s success was the product of Democratic “gerrymandering” and refused to concede.

“This race is not over with yet, although it was always a long shot,” he told the Sun-Times.

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U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, left, and candidate for Congress Jonathan Jackson greet customers at Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen on Election Day.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Jackson fashioned himself as a staunch progressive on the campaign trail, supporting universal health care and the “Green New Deal.” But his bona fides were called into question after it was revealed that groups connected to the lucrative cryptocurrency industry had spent more than $1 million boosting his campaign.

He notched crucial endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the Chicago Democrat testing the waters of next year’s mayoral race.

Garcia decisively won his race in the 4th Congressional District, while fellow incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Quigley cruised to victory in the 5th Congressional District.

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