The congressman's friend | Bleader

The congressman's friend

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Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. teamed up with organized labor earlier this year to help send his wife and several other newcomers to the City Council. But he resisted union pressure to drop support for longtime ally Howard Brookins Jr., even though Brookins, the 21st Ward alderman, was a labor target for opposing the big-box minimum-wage ordinance.

"I've known Howard Brookins all my life," Jackson said before aldermanic runoff elections in April. "I'm not going to lose my friendship with him over a political issue."

But Brookins has just found out that friendship doesn't always translate into political support.

The alderman is now fighting five others for the Democratic nomination for Cook County state's attorney, but he'll have to campaign without the endorsement of Jackson. Brookins says his old friend told him recently that he'll be supporting another candidate, most likely Cook County commissioner Larry Suffredin, because the congressman refuses to back anyone allied with Cook County Board president Todd Stroger or commissioner William Beavers. Beavers is now running against Jackson's wife, alderman Sandi Jackson, for Democratic committeeman of the Seventh Ward. 

"I'm kind of at a loss as to exactly why this is happening," Brookins said. "He asked me if Todd Stroger and Bill Beavers were supporting me. I said, 'I'm reaching out to everyone'"--including Suffredin and 38th Ward alderman Tom Allen, another state's attorney candidate. "He said, 'Well, I can't endorse you, then.'"

Jackson wrote an op-ed piece published in the Tribune Sunday ripping Stroger's proposal to raise sales taxes for the county's 2008 budget. A year ago he endorsed Stroger over Republican Tony Peraica. 

Brookins said he was disappointed by Jackson's move but tried to shrug it off. "We're building our support in the African-American and other communities, and I seriously don't believe Jesse Jackson Jr.'s support of Larry Suffredin will pull away enough from us to keep us from winning."

A spokesperson for Suffredin's campaign referred me to Jackson's office for comment. My call there wasn't immediately returned.

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