Every Sundaym Debbie Halvorson, an Illinois-native who has already served in Congress, visits up to five Black churches in the city of Chicago. She talks about growing up poor, raising two children as a single mother, and the trials of trying to succeed in politics. Halvorson even hired a African-American community relations consultant to appeal to voters. Why all the extra effort? Halvorson's opponent is none other than the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson, who not only shares his father's name but his ability to galvanize the support of the Black community.
In the former Mary Kay saleswoman's defense, she believes Jackson Jr.'s recent ethics scandal linking him to former Governor Rod Blagojevich will work against him and give her a bit of leverage in the majority Black district that's had only Black congressmen for the past three decades. Although Jackson Jr. denies involvement with Blagojevich raising money in exchange for him getting President Obama's former Senate seat, this is the first time he's faced a strong Democratic opponent since winning in a special election in 1995. And apparently the incumbent candidate is feeling the heat, because he too has amped up his public appearances, interviews and hired an expensive public relations firm to field public suspicion.
Politics aside, Halvorson seems to be making headway as more and more African-Americans are positively responding to her message. "She's proven to be concerned about things that hurt our people," said South Side Bishop Larry Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit church. "When I say 'our', I mean community people that are not in the upper echelon, regular working people and poor people. She has a heartbeat for building up single mothers." In summary: this is definitely gonna be a close one.
Should loyalty to years of activism override current political objectives? Can Chicagoans look beyond this candidates' race and be more concerned with shared principals? Is there irony in being race-neutral, even if it's disagreeable to the pro-equality Jackson name?