Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has set the special election to replace resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) for a Feb. 26 primary followed by a March 19 special general election, but the latter date will likely move. Illinois law requires a vacancy to be filled within 155 days of a vacancy occurring.
Quinn’s schedule falls within the current law’s parameters, but with local and municipal elections already scheduled for April 9, a move will be made to consolidate the two voting periods, per the request of local officials. Instead of asking a court to waive the legal requirements as first thought, Quinn will simply ask the legislature upon convening in January to change the special election law with an urgency clause. Such action will give him authority to move the special general election to April 9.
Since this is a heavily Democratic seat, the special general is irrelevant. What does matter is the Democratic primary, and that will stay on Feb. 26, since the municipal nominating contests are also that day.
Already, three candidates have announced their intentions to run. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), who challenged Rep. Jackson in the 2012 Democratic primary, officially joined the race over the weekend. Quickly following her public move was Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale along with state Senator-elect Napoleon Harris. All three are Democrats.
Many more candidates are expected to file before the end of December. Though the district is more than 62 percent African-American, Halvorson hopes a crowded field with no run-off election will allow her to coalesce the minority white vote around her and overtake the majority African-American vote, which will be fractured among multiple contenders. Halvorson scored just under 24 percent against Jackson in March of this year, meaning that she has at least a small base from which to begin this campaign.