Reynolds plans another run for Congress - KMSP-TV

Reynolds plans another run for Congress

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mel Reynolds announced Wednesday that he is running for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District.

Reynolds made the announcement at the Allegro Hotel, his campaign slogan "So he can finish the work."

Reynolds, 60, defeated Gus Savage in 1992 and served in the House of Representatives from 1993-1995 when he resigned after his conviction for having an affair with an underage campaign worker. He also served time in a federal prison on fraud charges. His sentence was commuted by President Bill Clinton.

Reynolds, once the promising Rhodes Scholar, now a convicted felon, says he's made mistakes in the past and is seeking redemption. He says he wants to serve the people by finding jobs for the unemployed and improving education in the 2nd District.

Former Cook County prosecutor Andrea Zopp says Mel Reynolds had his chance in Congress and blew it.

"I think former congressman Reynolds' announcement really shows his disdain for the electorate," Zopp says. "I was shocked that he was running for this seat."

Jesse Jackson Jr. replaced Reynolds in a special election in 1995. Now Reynolds wants to replace Jackson.

He says he knows Jackson Jr. and prays for him and his family but Reynolds has not spoken to the Jackson's, even though he was on the Rainbow PUSH payroll shortly after his release from prison.

Reynolds believes he has a good chance of winning, pointing out that after he was indicted in 1994, he went on to win 90% of the vote in the election.

"We believe that after the people of the 2nd district give us a good fair look, we have a pretty good chance of winning," Reynolds says.

He says his phones lit up after he indicated he was interested in the getting the congressional seat back and this is no joke. He says the fact he was convicted of having a sexual relationship with a teenage girl-- a campaign volunteer- and then obstructing the investigation into that activity, should not be a life sentence.

"You pay your debt to society, you pay your dues, you go on with your life," Reynolds says.

But Zopp, who is now President of the Chicago Urban League, says Reynolds' record makes him unqualified to run for public office.

"So, he engaged in activities to obstruct justice while he was a sitting Congressman, and from my perspective you forfeited the right to run again," Zopp says. "I know it was a long time ago, but those are kinda fundamental skills, can you be honest, and follow the law?"

Most recently, Reynolds has been running a consulting firm that does business in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

A dozen people have shown an interest in running for the office including former Rep. Debbie Halvorson and State Senator-elect Napoleon Harris.

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