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Absentee Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. re-elected

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder earlier this year and has made no public appearances since early this summer, easily won re-election to his Chicago-area district Tuesday.

Jackson, a Democrat who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1995, was expected to win despite his ailment and ethics questions hanging over him. He defeated Republican Brian Woodworth, a lawyer and professor at Olivet Nazarene University.

In a statement issued through his spokesman, Jackson said he was "humbled and moved" by the support given him by his district.

"Once the doctors approve my return to work, I will continue to be the progressive fighter you have known for years," Jackson said. "My family and I are grateful for your many heartfelt prayers and kind thoughts."

Jackson, 47, was treated for at least six weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, this summer for bipolar disorder, a psychological condition marked by extreme mood swings, and has been on medical leave from the House since June. Jackson is the son of civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson.

In addition to his health issues, Jackson has been the subject of a House ethics committee probe over an alleged bribe offered by a Jackson supporter in 2008 to then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The bribe was said to be intended to entice Blagojevich to appoint Jackson to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Jackson has admitted to lobbying for the seat, but denied knowing about any money offered to Blagojevich, who has since been convicted on corruption charges and imprisoned.

According to news reports citing unnamed sources, Jackson is also being investigated by the FBI over possible misuse of campaign money. The FBI has not confirmed the reports.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Greg McCune, Bernard Orr)

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