A special primary election to replace Jesse L. Jackson Jr. in Congress will be held in February, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois announced Monday, as numerous potential candidates were already floating their names in public, calling leaders in search of financial and political backing, and sizing up the competition. Debbie Halvorson, a former Democratic representative who ran against Mr. Jackson this year and lost, has announced that she will seek the seat once more. Anthony Beale, an alderman, announced the formation of a political committee for the Congressional seat on Monday.
One thing has become clear since Mr. Jackson, a Democrat who had held the job for nearly two decades, resigned last week: Congressional seats in Democratic strongholds of this city do not come open very often, and when they do, a line forms fast. Mr. Jackson himself had won the seat in a crowded special election in 1995 when then-Representative Mel Reynolds resigned after being convicted of having sex with a teenage girl.
“If someone is thinking of becoming a congresswoman or congressman, this might be their only chance,” said Debbie Halvorson, a former Democratic representative who ran against Mr. Jackson this year and lost, and has announced that she will seek the seat once more on Feb. 26, the date Mr. Quinn set for the primary. “Whoever gets this will have it forever, they say. That’s why everyone wants to take a chance.”
Mr. Quinn also announced a general election for March 19, to comply with requirements in state law that the election be held within 115 days. But that date appears likely to change; the governor said that he will urge state legislators to allow the election to be delayed until April 9 — a day when local elections are already being held — as a way to save money. If held on its own, a special general election could cost as much as $2.5 million, election officials said.