Delia Ramirez, Jonathan Jackson hold commanding early leads in Illinois congressional races

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State Rep. Delia Ramirez and Jonathan Jackson are joining Illinois’ congressional delegation after winning redrawn districts in the midterm election on Nov. 8, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times, Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Two new Democrats from Chicago vying for congressional seats took commanding leads as polls closed Tuesday — a North Sider looking to become the first Latina in the Illinois delegation and a South Sider from a politically connected family whose brother previously held a congressional seat.

State Rep. Delia Ramirez and businessman Jonathan Jackson campaigned on progressive platforms in their respective bids to win districts that were transformed after the 2020 U.S. Census.

Ramirez was leading Republican Justin Burau in the 3rd Congressional District race with less than 1% of the votes tallied, earning nearly 85% of them.

State Rep. Delia Ramirez smiles as she votes at Stowe Elementary School in Humboldt Park.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The seat was left open when state legislators redrew the district’s boundaries, creating a second district with a large Latino base. It now includes portions of the West and Northwest sides and stretches to the far western suburbs.

Ramirez became the first Guatemalan American elected to the state legislature in 2018 and easily beat out three competitors in the congressional primary, including Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th). She vowed to address climate change, protect LGBTQ rights and support undocumented immigrants.

Burau, a Winfield native who ran unopposed in the primary, is a businessman-turned-real estate broker who said “failed representation” and “the current political climate” pushed him to run.

Jackson, another newcomer, is taking up the mantle of a longstanding — and complicated — political dynasty.

Jonathan Jackson, left, with his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, wait to fill out ballots at the Dr. Martin Luther King Service Center.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Jackson’s father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, is a two-time presidential candidate who has remained a powerful political activist — despite his recent health issues. His brother, Jesse Jackson Jr., was previously elected to Congress but resigned under a cloud in 2012 and was later convicted of misappropriating campaign funds.

Jackson had collected over 95% of the vote in the 1st Congressional District race with nearly 7% of votes counted, dwarfing Republican Eric Carlson.

The winner will replace retiring U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, a former Black Panthers leader who has held the congressional seat for nearly 30 years. Carlson, a former U.S. Army Ranger who runs nonprofits focused on responding to disasters and treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, had railed against “career politicians” and promised to push for congressional term limits. 

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, left, and candidate for Congress Jonathan Jackson greet customers at Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen on Election Day. Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

The 1st Congressional District centers on the South Side and was redrawn in 2020 to include a narrow section that stretches from the city through the south suburbs almost to Kankakee. Like Ramirez, Jackson has fashioned himself as a staunch progressive, supporting universal health care and the “Green New Deal.”

But his progressive bona fides were called into question after it was revealed that a political action committee bankrolled by a cryptocurrency billionaire had spent more than $500,000 on television ads supporting his campaign. 

He notched crucial endorsements from U.S. Sen Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the Chicago Democrat testing the waters of next year’s mayoral race. 

Garcia on Tuesday was on pace to win reelection in the 4th Congressional District over Republican James Falakos and Working Class Party candidate Edward Hershey. Garcia had scored nearly 79% of the vote, with more than 6% counted.

U.S. Rep. Michael Quigley also got off to an early lead in his reelection big against Republican Tommy Hanson and Independent Jerico Matias Cruz. With less than 1% of votes counted, Quigley had earned more than 80%.

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November 8, 2022 at 08:21PM

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