Sniping begins in Halvorson-Jackson primary fight

October 6, 2011

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(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Halvorson announced her campaign on Thursday outside Bloom High School in Chicago Heights.

The mudslinging has begun in a fight between Democrats for Illinois' 2nd Congressional seat.

Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson on Thursday formally kicked off her campaign against current U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. They've disagreed for years over who should control a potential airport in Peotone.

"This has been his pet project for 15 years. Where is it?" Halvorson said at a press conference in south suburban Chicago Heights. "I want to make it happen, too, but we've got to do it right, and we need a congressman that doesn't have ethical distractions. Maybe that's why he can't get anything done anymore."

Halvorson refused to fully explain that remark, while noting the House ethics committee has investigated Jackson. That stems from his lobbying to be appointed to the U.S. Senate by then-Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The ethics panel has deferred action, citing a request from the Justice Department, and Jackson has denied wrongdoing.

Jackson's spokesman wouldn't make him available for an interview Thursday. But in a statement sent by his congressional office, Jackson defended his airport plan, and said, "People today want more jobs and less political infighting."