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Primary for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s former House seat set for Feb. 26

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 9:13 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday scheduled a special primary election for Feb. 26 to start the process of replacing former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and asked that legislators change state law to allow the special general election to be held in April to save money.

Under current law, the Quinn said, he was forced to set a special general election date of March 19 for voters to decide Jackson’s successor in 2nd Congressional District. He requested that the state General Assembly move the special general election to April 9, when municipal elections are already scheduled.

Suburban municipal primary elections already are scheduled for Feb. 26, so holding the congressional primary election that day makes sense, officials said. If the two congressional elections were held separately from the municipal elections, it could cost $5 million, State Board of Elections officials have said.

Cook County Clerk David Orr, who said he was prepared to go to court to seek the April general election date, on Monday said he was “pretty optimistic” that lawmakers who are meeting in Springfield for the fall session would act quickly on the date change.

The important election in the heavily Democratic district is the Feb. 26 primary, since the party’s nominee is virtually assured of winning the general election. Since Jackson resigned, more than a dozen potential Democratic candidates have surfaced.

Jackson resigned his seat last week. He is the subject of federal ethics investigations, and had taken a long medical leave for what was described as bipolar depression.

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(Tribune reporter John Byrne contributed to this report.)

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