Jackson Jr. endorses Preckwinkle for county president

January 19, 2010 3:04:42 PM PST
All four candidates in the Democratic primary for Cook County Board president are now endorsed by a different member of Congress. There are seven US Congress members who represent Cook County. Six of them have endorsed one of the candidates in the Democratic primary race for Cook County Board president. Tuesday, the lawmaker who is arguably the most controversial in the delegation made his choice.

"I stand here to proudly endorse Toni Preckwinkle as the next President of the Cook County Board," said U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., (D) Chicago and south suburbs.

Congressman Jackson is the third member of Cook County's congressional delegation to endorse Preckwinkle. The south suburban representative joins Jan Schakowski and Luis Guiterrez in backing the 4th Ward city alderman. Tuesday, she vowed to support Jackson's pet project, the development of a third airport near Peotone.

"If you look at demographic indicators for various parts of the county, the south has been struggling for a long time and needs the economic boost," Preckwinkle said.

The other county board president candidates have their congressional backers. Water Reclamation Board President Terrence O'Brien is endorsed by 3rd District Congressman Dan Lipinski. Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown is backed by 7th District Representative Danny Davis, and incumbent president Todd Stroger is backed by 1st District Congressman Bobby Rush.

The strength of Jackson's nod to Preckwinkle is questionable. Thornton Township Democratic boss Frank Zucarelli, who leads the party's largest vote-getting organization in the congressman's district, says he will put his troops on the street for President Stroger.

"He'll be on our sample ballot. We've invited him to our events, he's come to all of our events...but I think, overall, Todd Stroger really does care about this community," said Zucarelli.

Jackson is also under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. His supporters allegedly offered money to former Governor Blagojevich, hoping Blagojevich would appoint Jackson to Barack Obama's vacant US Senate seat.

Jackson denies any wrongdoing on his part. In his prepared remarks, the congressman took a shot at the county government now run by President Stroger.

"When we elect Toni Preckwinkle as county board president, we will have a leader that realizes that hiring friends isn't job creation, and building an already wasteful government isn't a stimulus plan," said Jackson.

The only Congress member not to endorse a candidate in the county board president's race is Mike Quigley of the 5th District, centered on Chicago's North Side. That's interesting because Quigley was a county commissioner before his election to Congress last year.