The already-crowded field of possible successors to Jesse Jackson Jr. expanded Wednesday to include Mel Reynolds, the disgraced former congressman whose conviction on child pornography and a bevy of other charges preceded his resignation from and Jackson's 1995 election to Congress.
Reynolds, who served in the House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995 as a Democrat, said Wednesday that his campaign to succeed the congressman who succeeded him in Illinois' 2nd congressional district is "far from a joke," NBC Chicago reports.
"Come with me in the community. Let's just walk randomly and see what the reaction is," Reynolds urged reporters, according to NBC. He spoke in front of a sign declaring "Redemption" posted on the wall and behind a podium emblazoned with his apparent campaign slogan: "So he can finish the work."
Reynolds, 60, did acknowledge that he has made "mistakes" in the past, but downplayed his past convictions -- which include criminal sexual assault, child pornography, wire fraud and lying to the Federal Election Commission -- as happening "almost 18, 20 years ago," the Tribune reports. His sentences were commuted by then-President Bill Clinton.
"The fact of the matter is, nobody’s perfect," the former congressman, a Harvard graduate and former political up-and-comer, noted.
(Scroll down to view other candidates rumored to be running for Jackson's former congressional seat.)
Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday that Jackson, 47, may have been tipped off on the federal probe that coincided with his extended medical leave from Washington and, subsequently, his abrupt resignation from Congress about two weeks after he was handily reelected to a ninth term.
IN: Robin Kelly
In this photo taken Aug. 18, 2010, Robin Kelly, former Illinois state representative and current Cook County Chief Administrative officer, is seen during Democrats Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. On Dec. 2, <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/16767105-418/robin-kelly-joins-quest-for-jacksons-seat-quinn-sets-april-9-vote-date.html" target="_hplink">Kelly announced her run for Jackson's seat</a> from a restaurant in suburban Matteson, Ill.
OUT: Toi Hutchinson
In this Dec. 13, 2011 file photo Illinois Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, speaks on the Senate floor in Springfield. <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Sen-Toi-Hutchinson-Wants-Jacksons-Seat-180513971.html"> Hutchinson dropped out of the race in February 2013.
OUT: Napoleon Harris
The State Senator-elected and former NFL player -- who also owns two pizza chains -- was formerly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/22/jesse-jackson-jr-resigned_n_2175593.html">among the special election candidates</a>. He <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/16642530-418/ex-nu-star-in-the-game.html">formally announced his run</a> on Nov. 27. Harris <a href="http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/illinois/chicago/harris-drops-out-of-nd-congressional-district-race/article_a8c5fab0-793a-5ffe-873c-52cdca6a0eda.html" target="_hplink">announced he was dropping out of the race</a> in late January. <em>Pictured:</em> Harris poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Getty Images)
IN: Lenny McAllister
Conservative pundit Lenny McAllister told DNAinfo.com Chicago that <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121204/chicago/lenny-mcallister-enters-race-replace-jackson-as-only-republican">he is running for Jackson's congressional seat</a>. As of Dec. 5, he will be running unopposed in the Republican primary.
IN: Debbie Halvorson
Debbie Halvorson speaks to supporter as she gives her concession speech March 20 in Homewood, Ill. Halvorson, a former congresswoman who unsuccessfully challenged Jackson in the democratic primary, confirmed on Nov. 25 that <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/16626643-418/former-rep-debbie-halvorson-running-to-replace-jesse-jackson-jr.html">she will give the seat another go</a>.
IN: Mel Reynolds
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 1995 file photo, U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds responds to question in Chicago. Reynolds has scheduled a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, in Chicago to announce that he is running to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress. The Harvard-educated Democrat later also went to prison after being convicted of fraud for concealing debts to obtain bank loans and diverting money intended for voter registration drives into his election campaign. Jackson was first elected to Congress in 1995 in a special election to replace Reynolds. Reynolds said on Nov. 28 <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Mel-Reynolds-Jumping-Into-2nd-District-Race-181180581.html">his new campaign is "far from a joke</a>." (AP Photo/Fred Jewell, File)
IN: Anthony Beale
Chicago <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/elections/16701390-505/ald-anthony-beale-joins-race-for-2nd-congressional-district.html#" target="_hplink">Alderman Anthony Beale jumped into the race on Nov. 29</a> to replace his former political mentor, Jesse Jackson Jr. "I'm the only candidate in this race [who] has created thousands of jobs. ... One project alone has created 3,000 to 4,000 jobs. That's the kind of leadership we need," he said in the Sun-Times.
OUT: Anne Marie Miles
Attorney and community activist Anee Marie Miles announced in a press release on Dec. 3 she would consider running for the 2nd Congressional District seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. However, Miles had not filed by the Feb. 7 deadline. Miles ran unsuccessful bids against fifth ward Alderman Leslie Hairston,<a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/All-The-Hot-Committeemans-Races-139710383.html" target="_hplink"> first in 2011 to unseat the alderman</a>, and again in 2012 in a race for the ward's role of Democratic Committeeman.
OUT: Donne Trotter
Illinois Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, listens to testimony during a Senate Executive committee hearing at the Illinois State Capitol Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Springfield Ill. Trotter <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20121126/BLOGS02/121129901/whos-in-whos-out-in-race-for-jesse-jackson-jr-s-seat-in-congress">told Crain's he is "in the race</a>" in November and his campaign continued <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/politics&id=8917342" target="_hplink">despite his arrest on a federal weapons charge</a>. Nevertheless, in late December, Trotter was <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8934735" target="_hplink">ready to drop out of the race</a>. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
OUT: David Miller
Former Illinois Rep. David. Miller argues mass transit funding legislation while on the House floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008. Miller's name <a href="http://chicagoheights.patch.com/articles/2nd-congressional-district-special-election-could-cost-millions-of-dollars#youtube_video-12294335">has been floated in multiple media reports</a> on the upcoming special election. As of the Feb. 7 filing deadline, Miller had not officially entered the race.
OUT: Sam Adam Jr.
Sam Adam Jr., one of the former attorneys for ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, listens to testimony to the Illinois house impeachment committee January 8, 2009 in Springfield, Illinois. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/sam-adam-jr-congressional_n_2129165.html">Adam is considering a congressional run</a>. As of the Feb. 7 filing deadline, however, Adams was nowhere to be seen on the ballot.
OUT: Sandi Jackson
In this Feb. 16, 2011 file photo, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, wife of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., is seen in her Chicago office. Jackson <a href="http://atlantablackstar.com/2012/11/23/sandi-jackson-wife-of-rep-jesse-jackson-jr-seen-as-possible-replacement-for-him/">had previously discussed her congressional aspirations</a> and <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121210/chicago/will-ald-sandi-jackson-run-for-disgraced-husbands-seat-never-say-never" target="_hplink">told DNAinfo Chicago to "never say never</a>" to her taking a stab at the seat for a story published on Dec. 10. Later that day, however, she decided to say never: she proclaimed to the Associated Press that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/12/jesse-jackson-jr-house-race-wife-sandi-jackson_n_2283810.html" target="_hplink">she is not running for Congress</a>.
OUT: Will Burns
Chicago Alderman Will Burns walks in the Bud Billiken Parade. <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/11/21/race-to-replace-jackson-could-be-wild-wild-west/">Burns was reportedly interested</a> in succeeding Jackson in Congress. "We'll see," he told CBS Chicago. However, Burns <a href="http://hpherald.com/2012/11/30/will-burns-will-not-seek-2nd-district-seat/" target="_hplink">tweeted on Nov. 30</a> he would not seek Jesse Jackson Jr's seat.
OUT: Jonathan Jackson
Rev. Jesse Jackson, left, gets hugs from sons Jonathan, center, and Yusef following his speech at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 15, 2000, in Los Angeles. Jonathan Jackson is <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/trouble-not-over-jesse-jackson-jr">rumored to be considering a run in the special election</a>, according to the Associated Press. In late November, NBC Chicago handicapped the race, <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Handicapping-the-2nd-District-Special-Election-181403141.html" target="_hplink">speculating the odds of Jonathan Jackson running to be 12-1. </a> However, in a Dec. 18 report on Fox Chicago, <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/20378167/jesse-jackson-jr-brother-not-running-congress">Jackson said he will not be running</a> in the race.
OUT: Toni Preckwinkle
Though Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has consistently denied rumors that she is interested in running for other offices -- most recently, for Illinois governor -- <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2012/1124/Could-a-tea-partyer-replace-Rep.-Jesse-Jackson-Jr.">her name was also being floated as a possible Jackson successor</a>. On Dec. 4, Preckwinkle <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/cook-county-board-president-toni-preckwinkle-illinois-second-congressional--182060081.html">called such rumors "complete and total nonsense</a>."
OUT: Todd Stroger
In this June 28, 2006 file photo, Todd Stroger answers a question at a news conference after a Chicago City Council meeting. <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/16542699-418/todd-stroger-weighs-bid-to-replace-jackson.html">Stroger was interested in Congress</a>, the Sun-Times reported. <strong>UPDATE:</strong> DNAinfo Chicago reports Stroger <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121126/chicago/state-looks-into-500000-that-disappeared-from-todd-stroger-campaign-fund">is no longer considering a congressional run</a>.