Jesse Jackson Jr. Wins 2nd Congressional Seat

Jesse Jackson Jr., the 30-year-old son of the civil rights activist, will bring his famous name to Washington after trouncing Republican Thomas Somer to capture the congressional seat vacated by Rep.

Mel Reynolds, who resigned after being convicted of sexual misconduct.

Jackson won a resounding victory in the December 12 general election with 76 percent of the vote. Celebrating his victory, he told the New York Times: "We want the people to dream again. We want them to believe again." He told the Chicago Tribune that he hoped newspapers would one day run headlines announcing "Motorola, Sears, Amoco, GE build plants on the South Side." On the national scale, he said, "We have sought to challenge the Democratic Party and the nation since 1984 to honor Dr. [Martin Luther] King's tradition, to be more inclusive, to fight for healthy conditions for workers and good benefits, to fight for racial justice and gender equity as the moral center."

Jackson won the general election against Republican Thomas Somer (76 percent to 24 percent).The victory had been widely anticipated. Upon his victory, Jackson made it known he would be a liberal voice in opposition to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and he was sworn in by Gingrich on December 15, 1995 before being introduced to the House by long-time Chicago congressman Sidney Yates. Jackson was perceived as less charismatic than his father and less credentialed than the Rhodes Scholar Reynolds, but his family pedigree was expected to help him open the doors that would enable him to serve the needs of his constituents effectively.

I too have a dream...that one day the South Side of Chicago and the south suburbs will look like the North Side of Chicago and the northwest suburbs.”

— Jesse Jackson Jr.

The son of activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, he has served the 2nd district since winning a special election on December 12, 1995 to fill the seat vacated by Mel Reynolds.