Last fall Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. announced that he was creating a political organization to back a slate of candidates in the February 27 municipal elections and beyond. Jackson said at the time that his goal was to develop an independent operation to counter the many ward and citywide political organizations (think HDO) aligned with Mayor Daley and other regular Democrats. Specifically, Jackson said, he wanted to help elect at least 15 aldermanic candidates to form a major independent bloc in the City Council.
But with 12 days to go before the election, Jackson hasn’t put his money where his mouth once was. According to campaign finance records, Jackson has only given one aldermanic candidate a dime since last fall—and that’s his wife, Sandi, who’s running against Darcel Beavers in the Seventh Ward. As of earlier this week Jackson’s congressional campaign committee had transferred cash and in-kind contributions worth $204,226.60 to Friends of Sandi Jackson since October.
The Jacksons have helped Kenny Johnson, their candidate in the Second Ward, with $5,000 pulled out of Sandi Jackson’s war chest earlier this month. And 21st Ward alderman Howard Brookins Jr. received $4,500 from Jackson’s congressional campaign committee in 2004 and ’05. But according to the Illinois State Board of Elections, no other aldermanic candidate has received a dime from Jackson.
Denise Dixon, a Jackson-endorsed candidate in the 15th Ward, says that though the congressman hasn’t sent her any money or foot soldiers, he has provided her with invaluable support and advice. “I can go to him and say, ‘Can I do this, that, or the other?’ and he will say, ‘You should do this.’ And I can use his likeness, his name, and voter registration lists,” Dixon says. “He’s a genius with this stuff.”
Jackson’s congressional campaign committee had about $1 million on hand at the end of 2006.