Robin Kelly has won the Democratic Primary in the race to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois's 2nd Congressional District.

Tuesday's bad weather couldn't wash away the district's sordid history of congressional representation.

Jackson's predecessor, Mel Reynolds, was forced to give up his office in 1995 after being convicted of sex crimes, including having sex with a minor who was a campaign worker. This time, Reynolds launched what turned out to be a failed bid to return to Congress, seeking redemption from Democratic voters.

Reynolds got into office by defeating Gus Savage, who had been accused of sexually accosting a Peace Corps worker during a trip to Zaire.

Virtually all of the 14 active Democrats and four Republicans on the primary ballots pledged to begin a new day for voters in the district.

Initially, 17 Democrats and five Republicans filed for the primary. But three Democrats dropped out, including state Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields, who initially had secured the endorsement of Kelly's most recent boss, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

The contest began almost immediately after Jackson's stunning announcement the day before Thanksgiving that he was giving up the seat in Congress to which he had just won re-election, amid a diagnosis of bipolar depression and federal ethics investigations. Jackson had been on leave from Congress since mid-June after defeating Halvorson in the March primary, leaving his general election voters only a lone automated phone message telling them he would come back when cleared by doctors.

But Jackson never returned to office. Just days before the special primary, he and his wife, former 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson, each pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.

Kelly ran a largely one-issue campaign, focusing on gun violence and her backing of Obama's push to ban military-style assault weapons, limit large-capacity ammunition magazines and require universal background checks for gun purchasers. Kelly focused on the gun issue even before the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn., calling her push to quell such violence a personal one because of friends she'd seen become victims.

Tribune reporters Monique Garcia and Hal Dardick contributed.

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