Ex-con Paul McKinley declared primary GOP winner in 2nd district - New York News

Ex-con Paul McKinley declared primary GOP winner in 2nd district

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago Resident Paul McKinley hung on to win the Republican nomination Wednesday in the race to replace disgraced ex-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

McKinley was leading fellow Republican Eric Wallace by about two dozen votes as of late Tuesday night, but with a handful of precincts outstanding, no winner was declared. The unofficial vote count Wednesday showed McKinley up by just 23 votes.

SEE: Robin Kelly wins democratic race for 2nd district

McKinley--who has been convicted of 6 felony counts and served nearly 20 years behind bars for armed robberies, aggravated battery, and burglaries--refers to himself as an "ex-offender" who wants to get other ex-offenders to work.

McKinley was also arrested 11 times from 2003 to 2007, mostly for protesting. Records show he also owes $14,147 in federal taxes.

There are dozens of districts where very few voters bother to participate in Republican primaries, setting the stage for ugly surprises. Remember entertainer "Spanky the Clown?" He won the GOP nomination to face Mayor Daley in 1995. That may have been good for a laugh. But those who dream of rebuilding the Republican Party in Chicago aren't laughing at the apparent nomination of convicted armed robber Paul McKinley.

"He's not a Republican, obviously, and he doesn't represent the Republican Party," says GOP activist Chris Robling.

As one who's helped lead public and private conversations about rebuilding the GOP in Illinois, Chris Robling said he knows this much:  former burglar and armed robber Paul McKinley is not the sort of new leader the party needs.  In a series of campaign videos, McKinley said he cared little for Democrats or Republicans.

"I have fought against this system from the outside," McKinley said. "Now, I believe I can do even more damage to this corrupt system inside of government.

In a video lecture on "The Machine," McKinley focused on the Democrats who run every level of government in Chicago. McKinley has joined protestors who've shut down construction projects that allegedly excluded African-American workers.

"When you don't get a job, your children are pushed out into the street and they commit crime," McKinley said.

After his previous life of crime put McKinley in prison for 20 years, he said he embraced the concept of "street repentance."

"Street Repentance meant that you had to go back out to society and help the people in society that you wounded, that you violated, that you messed over," McKinley says.

While objecting to McKinley as an acceptable candidate, GOP activists like Robling said it's time for the party to compete in places like the Second Congressional District.

"We've got to be relevant at the neighborhood level," Robling says.

Residents of the 2nd district have seen three congressmen leave office in an ethical cloud.

That includes Harvard-educated Rhodes Scholar Mel Reynolds, who was convicted of having sex with an underage campaign worker. It also includes former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who recently pleaded guilty to illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal use.

Whether it's Chicago corruption at its worst or simply uncanny coincidence, residents in Illinois' 2nd District haven't elected a representative to Congress without serious ethical or legal trouble troubles in more than three decades.

The 2nd Congressional District is heavily Democratic, and no Republican has won the Chicago-area seat in more than 50 years.

Paul McKinley will head to the April 9 general election against Democratic nominee Robin Kelly. The Green Party's LeAlan Jones and three independents have also filed.

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