Rev. Jesse Jackson: Illinois is a swing state

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Rev. Jesse Jackson — the only member of the politically powerful Jackson dynasty attending the Democratic National Convention — offered an unlikely characterization of Illinois Thursday morning.

“Illinois is a swing state,” Jackson told the Illinois delegation at a Thursday breakfast. “We lost the Senate race in 2010. Illinois is a swing state too. Don’t take Illinois for granted. Too many unregistered voters. Don’t take Illinois for granted.”

In 2010, Republican Mark Kirk won the seat that once belonged to Barack Obama, beating out Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.

Of course, it was that same seat that was famously the subject of a criminal indictment against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich was convicted of trying to trade Obama’s seat for a personal benefit. Among the charges was that Blagojevich believed he would be paid $1.5 million in campaign cash to make an appointment. Of whom? The Rev. Jackson’s son — U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill) An emissary of Jackson’s, Raghu Nayak, had approached Blagojevich’s brother with a cash offer, which Rob Blagojevich turned down, according to testimony at the former governor’s trial. The congressman has said he never directed anyone to make such an offer.

The younger Jackson has been hospitalized for depression and is not attending the convention. Neither is his wife, Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson.

Earlier this week, Rev. Jackson would not say whether his son would for certain continue pursuing office this fall.

In contrast to the Rev. Jackson’s remarks, Democrats in Illinois have been saying this week they believe Obama will carry the state and the election will have enough bounce that the party could pick

up congressional seats in five different races. U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky earlier this week said the GOP was particularly vulnerable in the 8th Congressional district, where Democrat Tammy Duckworth is battling incumbent Tea Party Republican Joe Walsh.

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