Mel Reynolds announces run for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s old seat in Congress

November 28, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Reynolds was convicted in 1995 on several charges, including having sex with an underage volunteer campaign worker.

Reynolds admits he has made mistakes, but he wants to return to Congress and help the people of the district he served before his conviction more than 15 years ago.

This is not the first time Mel Reynolds has tried to get his congressional seat back. In 2004, he ran against Jesse Jackson Jr. in the Democratic primary and only received 6 percent of the vote.

The 60-year-old believes he has a good shot at the seat this time as long as voters focus on Reynolds' congressional record rather than his criminal one.

Flanked by signs Wednesday that simply said the word "Redemption," Reynolds is hoping to get some from voters in the 2nd Congressional District.

"I've said it and I'll say it again: I've made mistakes, but that was 18, almost 20 years ago," said Reynolds.

Sticking to using the word "mistakes" rather than admitting guilt, Reynolds said after you pay your debt and dues to society it is time to move on.

The former congressman resigned his seat in 1995 after a jury convicted him for having sex with a 16-year-old campaign worker.

Reynolds was also convicted in federal court for corruption.

"A two, three, four, five, six year sentence whatever you get, shouldn't be a life sentence," Reynolds said Wednesday.

Reynolds says voters should judge him for his education, which includes being a Rhodes scholar, his experience in Congress and his work in the private sector as a consultant.

"I'm not perfect, and if you are, I'm not appealing to you, I'm appealing to the people who want to take a fair look at all my history," said Reynolds.

The people of the 2nd District have gotten far from perfect. Reynolds succeeded Gus Savage, who was condemned by the House Ethics Committee for sexual misconduct.

Jesse Jackson Jr. replaced Reynolds, and now Reynolds wants his seat back after Jackson stepped down last week as he faces a federal investigation.

"It says people are human," said Reynolds. "It is not unique to the 2nd Congressional District."

Reynolds says he is counting on the voters who have also made mistakes, gone to prison and moved on with their lives.

Reynolds says he has spent the past few years raising his three children and working as a broker between U.S. companies and African countries.

Also running or considering running for the 2nd Congressional District are former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, state senator Toi Hutchinson, state senate-elect Napoleon Harris, alderman Anthony Beale and Jonathan Jackson.

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