THE OTHER ELECTIONS

03.07.12

Rahm Emanuel Backs Jesse Jackson Jr.

The Chicago mayor endorses Jesse Jackson Jr., Chellie Pingree won't run for Olympia Snowe’s seat, and more. The latest news from the rest of the 2012 campaigns.

Rahm Emanuel Endorses Jesse Jackson Jr. Over Recruit

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel threw his political support behind Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., the Democratic incumbent running for reelection in llinois's Second District. Jackson, son of the famous reverend and civil-rights leader of the same name, has represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1995. He's being challenged in the primary by Debbie Halvorson, herself a former U.S. representative who was recruited for her successful 2008 run by Emanuel but lost her reelection bid in 2011. 

"As [Jackson] looks for endorsement from political insiders, I continue to work for the endorsement of the people of the Second District," Halvorson said following the news of Emanuel's decision. "He is more concerned with a long list of endorsements to help his career rather than actually working for the people, and the people are sick of it." 

Asked why Emanuel backed Jackson, Thomas Bowen, the head of Emanuel's political operation, said the incumbent’s “progressive values and steadfast support of the president's priorities in Congress make him the obvious choice for voters in Chicago." 

Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree Declines Senate Run 

Despite a strong effort by progressive groups to boost her candidacy, Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine announced Wednesday that she won't be running to replace Olympia Snowe in the U.S. Senate. Former Maine governor Angus King announced Tuesday he'd run for the coveted seat as an independent, making the race much more of an uphill climb for Pingree. A Public Policy Poll released Tuesday found that, if running only against King, Pingree would be the likely winner, but that King would be the frontrunner in a three-way race. "Our polling numbers are great. We beat virtually everyone in a head-to-head. And we may even win this race," Pingree said. "But it's so complicated when you have a three-way race that it's hard to step into something knowing you could turn it into a Republican seat," pointing to the 2010 contest won by Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Pingree, considered a comer in the state party, has represented Maine's First District in the House of Representatives since 2009, when she became the first Democratic woman to be elected to Congress from her district. Before that, she a member of the state Senate.

Another Republican Considers Challenging McCaskill

Republicans are lining up to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Among the possible contenders hoping to oust the state’s vulnerable senior senator are former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, Rep. Todd Akin, businessman John  Brunner, and Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich. Though nothing has been confirmed, Schweich seems to be laying the groundwork for a run, as Bloomberg reporter Greg Giroux tweeted today: "'[Missouri Auditor Tom] Schweich for U.S. Senate' papers filed. Big R field vs @clairemc," and linked to a copy of IRS papers filed by supporters eager to set up an organization to support a potential campaign. 

McCaskill has seen sinking approval numbers, and polls show her in a near tie with the various Republicans vying to replace her. Still, Missouri Republicans have expressed concern over the current field of candidates. Schweich has been the Show Me State's auditor since 2011—his first public office in Missouri—and before that he was the U.S. coordinator for counternarcotics and justice reform in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008.

"I personally hope Tom will consider running for the U.S. Senate. However, he has made no decision to run at this point and is focused today on serving the people of Missouri as their state auditor," said supporter and fellow Missouri Republican Neal Ethridge. "However, unlike some candidates, Tom thought it prudent to have the required paperwork filed while he considers a potential candidacy."