A worthy predecessor to, and successor of, Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Mel Reynolds has announced that he will run for the congressional seat held by Jesse Jackson Jr., who has resigned. “Swell Mel” held that seat, Illinois’ Second District, before Jackson. He resigned from Congress in 1995, after a jury found him guilty of having sex with an underage campaign worker. Reynolds later was convicted of federal charges of bank and campaign fraud. He remained in jail until President Clinton commuted his sentence in January 2001.

At the news conference in which he announced his candidacy, Reynolds admitted having made “mistakes” in the past. He also said he would try to campaign under mantle of an incumbent on the theme that he should be elected so he can finish his work. What work? It’s probably better not to ask.

Actually, Reynolds should have little difficulty assuming the mantle of the incumbent. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is charged with misuse of campaign funds, including their conversion to personal use, such as home furnishings, improper travel and gifts. He’s negotiating a plea deal.

And Reynolds’ predecessor, Gus Savage, was investigated by a House ethics panel for sexual misconduct involving a Peace Corps volunteer while Savage was on an official congressional visit to Zaire. The committee condemned his behavior and Savage apologized.

Reynolds nicely synthesizes Jackson and Savage. He engaged in both serious sexual misconduct and graft. In short, he’s perfect for the job, and certainly preferable to some white woman from the suburbs.

UPDATE: A reader from the Chicago area adds: “The 2d district is a microcosm of our state, which has had four governors imprisoned since 1976, including the last two, both of whom are still in the can.”

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