Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=169660
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GOP considering focus on foe of scandal-plagued Jackson

by Alexander Wilson
Sep 28, 2010


 The National Republican Congressional Committee moved Isaac Hayes, a little-known candidate seeking Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s seat, to a status they call “on the radar” Saturday in the wake of new problems for Jackson.  

The National Republican Congressional Committee is a group that provides consultation and funding to rising Republican candidates through a program called “young guns.” Moving Hayes to the “on the radar” status is the first of three steps in what the committee’s spokesman called an uncertain future for Hayes.  

The spokesman, Greg Blair, said a decision on whether to elevate Hayes to step two, “Contender,” will be made over the next few weeks. He stands to gain greater campaign contributions if his status keeps rising. 

“A lot will be, ‘is Jackson going to implode?’” Blair said.  

Hayes said Tuesday he is an associate minister at the Apostolic Church of God and has been trying to leverage the Christian vote since last August. Hayes said that reports that Jackson cheated on his wife and may have been involved in an illegal attempt to garner Obama’s senate seat, could bolster Hayes’ candidacy. 

The 2nd Congressional District has been held by a Democrat for 60 years. 

Democratic political consultant, Don Rose, said there is no chance that Jackson could possibly lose the seat.  

“The district is overwhelming Democratic,” Rose said. “And Jackson has not lost all of his following.” 

Rose went on to say that the scandals will lessen voter turnout in Jackson’s district, but Jackson would lose only under very extreme circumstances. 

“The only way [Jackson] would lose would be if he was caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy,” Rose said. 

To date, Jackson has a healthy campaign coffer while Hayes’ is small. According to the June 30 FEC filing reports Jackson out-raised Hayes almost 23 to one. Jackson had more than $700,000 while Hayes had about $30,000. Regardless of the scandals surrounding Jackson, without substantial funding Hayes will be unable to promote his message on television and door to door. Still, Hayes remained optimistic.  

“[Michael Patrick] Flanagan beat [Dan] Rostenkowski during the Republican sweep in ’94. There are people who surprise,” Hayes said. 

Andrew Wilson, a representative for Jackson said in an email that Jackson’s record serving his constituents would stand up against any challenge.  

“The voters have consistently recognized [Jackson’s] service, but as always he is taking nothing for granted,” Wilson said. “He will continue to make his case to the people of Chicago and the South Suburbs.”  

Hayes countered by saying: “From a pragmatic perspective, Republicans will be in the majority in November. I think it’s important to have someone at the table so [African Americans] don’t get left out of the process.”