Collins has more going for her than fame and money, but is that enough?

CHICAGO — A recent political poll I previewed last week showed the son of a civil rights icon and a Chicago alderman were at an impasse to win the Democratic primary in the race for 17 candidates to replace retired U.S. Representative Bobby Rush.

Rush’s 1st District stretches from Chicago’s lakefront through an ever-expanding strip of city neighborhoods through the southern suburbs to the farm fields beyond Frankfort.

Jonathan Jackson – son of the Reverend Jesse Jackson and brother of ex-convict and former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. – has a lot of name recognition and local influence, mostly due to decades of heroic and outrageous headlines on his family.

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On his own, Jonathan Jackson is a well-spoken businessman with no elected political experience.

And from Monday, Jackson always had not filed a financial disclosure statement required for his congressional run after being branded a voter fraud by Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet.

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And Ald. Pat Dowell has served on City Council since 2007.

She ousted Dorothy Tillman, a fancifully hatted department head, with a campaign funded by a powerful union of public servants. Dowell’s best achievement, according to her organicwas his role as main sponsor of a Order requiring banks to maintain assets seized in 2011.

Dowell’s campaign tops fundraising, according to federal election records.

It makes sense that someone’s other son and a most-money-backed Chicago neighborhood leader would show a lead in a political poll. Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed enough Jackson and Dowell campaign signs decorating corners to win over some voters by osmosis.

If this scenario plays out, it would be a victory for the political status quo and a shame for voters.

Because when people learned a few things about Illinois Sen. Jacqui Collins, the state senator who is also running for the seat, she became their pick as the frontrunner in the Congressional race, according to the survey results.

The poll, by the Collins campaign, is not a clear predictor of how the election will go. In real life, lesser-known candidates running campaign messages about a budget are struggling to get their message across to voters.

The political poll initially showed Collins in a statistical stalemate with Jackson and Dowell. But when potential voters learned more about the state senator, she became an election favorite, according to the survey.

It makes sense to me.

I didn’t know much about Collins — other than that she was a state senator who got her political start during the late Harold Washington’s campaign for mayor of Chicago in 1983 — until we talked for the first time at the start of the coronavirus crisis.

At the time, people were dying at an alarming rate in the 60620 zip code on the southwest side of Chicago, which Collins represents. And the governor’s office has not responded to his requests to set up a coronavirus testing site in Auburn Gresham.

While so many elected Democrats kept quiet and did as they were told, Collins continued to fight for people in the working-class African-American enclave with woefully high infection rates and no a single test site for miles.

At the height of her frustration, she asked me, “Perhaps you could enlighten the governor a little on Auburn Gresham.

That’s what happened. Within weeks, Collins stirred up so much political pressure against his fellow Democrats that two COVID-19 testing sites — one run by the city and the other by the state — simultaneously opened in the healthcare desert. on the south side.

Collins, the former journalist-turned-state senator running to replace Congressman Rush, doesn’t have a famous name or overflowing campaign funds.

Collins refuses to accept corporate campaign donations, unlike Dowell and Jackson.

She has heavy credit card debt, like many of the people she represents, and admitted it in financial disclosure documents that her opponent, Jonathan Jackson, didn’t bother to file.

“Transparency and ethics are essential parts of our democracy. As someone who has served in the General Assembly and fought for ethics reform, I understand how desperately needed it is. If Jonathan Jackson can’t show us a commitment to ethics now, how can voters trust him in Congress?” Collins said.

Over the past two years, I’ve seen Collins consistently champion the neglected, forgotten, and neglected.

She has sponsored laws that help pay funeral expenses for victims of gun violence, outlaw predatory lending practices and, more recently, outlaw untraceable “phantom guns.”

Collins, whose senatorial district stretches from Chicago’s South Side to suburban forest reserves, knows she has to find a way to get her message across with limited money.

On Monday, she challenged “high profile” candidates running for Congress to a televised debate to give people a chance to hear from her directly before Election Day.

Voters deserve it.


Marc Konkol, recipient of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, wrote and produced the Peabody Prize-winning series “Time: The Kalief Browder Story.” He was producer, writer and narrator for the docuseries “Chicagoland” on CNN and a consulting producer on the Showtime documentary “16 Shots.

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