The Washington Post

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. dealing with severe ‘physical and emotional ailments’

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s office says the Democratic Chicago congressman is struggling with “physical and emotional ailments” worse than previously known.

In this Oct. 16, 2011 file photo, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is seen during the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

“Recently, we have been made aware that he has grappled with certain physical and emotional ailments privately for a long period of time,” the statement reads. “At present, he is undergoing further evaluation and treatment at an in-patient medical facility. According to the preliminary diagnosis from his doctors, Congressman Jackson will need to receive extended in-patient treatment as well as continuing medical treatment thereafter. We ask that you keep Congressman Jackson and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult period.”

Jackson is a 17-year congressman who defeated former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson in a primary in March in a new district that stretched into more rural areas of the Chicagoland area that Halvorson used the represent.

Given his district’s heavy Democratic lean, he’s a cinch for reelection even if he can’t actively campaign for an extended period of time.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Jackson’s Chicago colleague, told The Post’s Ed O’Keefe recently that he thought the ups and downs of congressional life merely got to Jackson.

“The man said that he is exhausted; even Christ has to step away from the multitudes in order to refresh,” Rush said. “He is very wise to do that.

“To me, it’s not a big thing. His health is what’s more important right now.”

Democratic strategist David Heller, who worked on Jackson’s 1995 special election campaign and his 2012 primary, said the congressman didn’t seem exahusted during the campaign.

“The thing with Jesse is that he loves people so much,” Heller said. “When I see him out there in his district mingling with people, he comes across exactly the opposite. He comes across as energetic, enthusiastic and excited about his opportunities in Congress.”

But the announcement is the latest in a long line of troubles for the civil rights scion. Previously, Jackson and his wife acknowledged that he had engaged in an inappropriate relationship, and Jackson has also been linked to convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich’s (D) efforts to sell the open Senate seat vacated by President Obama in 2009 (though he has not been charged with wrongdoing).

Through all of it, Jackson has stayed tight-lipped, and in a recent months and years, the once-outspoken Democrat has shied from the spotlight.

Jackson had been considered a rising star in Democratic circles, with potential statewide or mayoral ambitions, but as the Chicago Sun-Times reported last week, his problems have put a serious hold on all of that.

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