Halvorson questions Jackson's endorsement claims

January 15, 2012 10:00:00 PM PST
With the 2012 primary elections only nine weeks from Tuesday, one incumbent has decided not to wait for official endorsements from two high-profile politicians.

South suburban Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is already dropping their names in his campaign literature.

Last week, he published a list of re-election campaign endorsers including the president of the United States and the mayor of Chicago, but the nine-term incumbent congressman confidently conceded that the presidential and mayoral endorsements were of the word-of-mouth variety and not officially released by Barack Obama or Rahm Emanuel. The comments came during a brief interview at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast Monday morning.

"I've called them specifically and spoke with them and asked them for their support, and they've said they're with me absolutely," Jackson said.

Former 11th District Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson is challenging Jackson in the newly-drawn 2nd District.

"Everything that comes out of his mouth is questionable and has been pretty questionable for about 17 years," Halvorson said.

She said the congressman is misleading voters by touting endorsements that are unofficial and not in writing.

"I've never put anybody's name on any of my literature until they've signed something, not even gave me an OK," she said. "They have had to sign something. You know, that's not fair to the people."

The President has not publicly spoken or written an endorsement of any candidate in the Second Congressional District of Illinois. But Ben Finkenbinder, a spokesman for Obama 2012, told ABC-7 that during the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication in Washington, D.C. last fall "The President told Jesse Jackson, Jr. that he would be supporting him."

During a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Emanuel called Rep. Jackson a "former colleague and a friend" but refused to endorse Jackson's re-election.

"There is a time and a season for politics and I'll make my political statements and political endorsements when that season is there," Emanuel said.

Jackson is under investigation by the congressional ethics committee for alleged misuse of campaign funds and his role in the attempted sale of a Senate seat by convicted former Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Despite his Capitol Hill troubles, the congressman remains confident that at some point the president and mayor will officially stake their reputations on his vindication.

"We'll be rolling out their public statements," Jackson said. "We just released our list but not public statements."

Jackson had no word on when the president or mayor might make the formal endorsements that he predicts.