Democrat U.S. Representative-elect Robin Kelly talks about what she needs to do in the first days in her new office as a congresswoman this week in Washington, D.C. (John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune)

Prior to Jackson's 1995 election to Congress, the district had been represented by Mel Reynolds, who was forced to give up the seat after being convicted of sex-related charges, including having sex with an underage campaign worker.

Reynolds gained the seat in 1993 after his predecessor, Gus Savage, was condemned by the House Ethics Committee amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving a Peace Corps volunteer while he was on an official visit to Zaire.

McKinley, 54, won the special Republican primary by defeating Flossmoor multimedia company owner Eric Wallace by 23 votes.

Wallace called the nomination "an embarrassment" to the GOP because of McKinley's history as a convicted felon who served nearly 20 years in state prison for burglaries, armed robberies and aggravated battery, most of it in the 1980s and 1990s. McKinley did not hide his criminal past as he campaigned, billing himself as an "ex-offender running to save the next offender," but he frequently declined to discuss the crimes.

Kelly raised more than $780,000, including donations this month from union teachers and public employees. Entering the final weeks of the contest, she reported more than $121,000 left.

McKinley reported raising less than $13,000. He took the unusual step of paying at least $3,400 of that money to himself for campaign work. McKinley acknowledged he was unemployed. In addition, an independent super political action committee, the Leadership Fund, spent $23,000 on behalf of McKinley, including phone calls, T-shirts, bumper stickers and online ads.

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