Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), the son of famed civil rights crusader Jesse Jackson, spawned a mystery this summer when he vanished from his congressional duties, with his office simply citing "exhaustion." Two months later, the explanation for his disappearance came not from Jackson but the Mayo Clinic, which announced that he was being treated for bipolar disorder. Jackson is still in treatment and has done no campaigning for four months; it's unclear when, if ever, he'll be able to resume his duties. Although mental illness isn't necessarily a disqualifier for high public office -- Ronald Reagan's son, Ron, says his father was suffering from Alzheimer's disease while still serving as president, and many of us who remember the Reagan administration have little trouble believing this -- the uncertainty about Jackson's ability to adequately represent his district would, one would think, give voters pause. It isn't. Jackson faces token Republican opposition in a district that's overwhelmingly Democratic. This is as good an argument as any for spreading California's new open-primary system to other states.
Harry Hamburg / Associated Press
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