CBC watching race to replace Jackson

Dec. 20, 2012 at 9:01 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The Congressional Black Caucus is watching to see who replaces ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., in a more diverse district, caucus officials said.

Because of shrinking urban populations, more diverse neighborhood and other factors, many districts where black politicians were all but certain to be elected now are shaky, The Hill reported Thursday

The Congressional Black Caucus has 42 members and will grow by one if Jackson's replacement is black.

But after seeing 40 years of growing membership, the caucus is in a wobbly position because many of its seats are held by members whose eventual retirements could open the door for a white or Hispanic politician.

A caucus spokeswoman said the caucus doesn't plan to get involved in the Jackson race. The Hill said it couldn't reach a spokesman for the group's political action committee.

However, one caucus member, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., is likely to get involved. A spokesman for Davis indicated the congressman likely will endorse one of the African-American candidates in the Democratic primary.

"The congressman is concerned about the community being able to have a real choice in who would best represent them in the tradition of the representation they've had over these past years," spokesman Ira Cohen told The Hill. "He is looking at who is interested in running and will make a decision at some point about a candidate that he feels is consistent with that kind of representation."

Jackson's old district, like many heavily African-American districts, was expanded during redistricting and now extends to Kankakee, more than an hour from Chicago's South Side.

Jackson handily defeated former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill., who is white, in the Democratic primary earlier this year. She's running again and a crowded Democratic field increases her odds of returning to Congress.

The other apparent Democratic front-runners are Illinois state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, an African-American woman who was once Halvorson's chief of staff, and state Sen. Donne Trotter, who currently is facing charges of attempting to carry a gun onto a commercial flight.

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