Mel Reynolds is a former Illinois Congressman who faced charges of sexual assault of a sixteen-year-old campaign volunteer. He eventually resigned his seat.
In 1995, Barack Obama went to see his alderman, Toni Preckwinkle, after South Side Chicago politics was upset by local Congressman Reynolds' scandal. The looming vacancy interested several politicians, including state senator Alice Palmer, who prepared to enter the congressional race.
Palmer represented Hyde Park—Obama’s neighborhood—and, if she ran for Congress, she would need a replacement in Springfield, the state capital. The Palmer seat was what Barack Obama had in mind when he visited Alderman Preckwinkle.
- “Barack came to me and said, ‘If Alice decides she wants to run, I want to run for her State Senate seat,’ ”
Preckwinkle soon became an Obama loyalist, and she stuck with him in a State Senate campaign that strained or ruptured many friendships but was ultimately successful. Four years later, in 2000, she backed Obama in a doomed congressional campaign against a local icon, the former Black Panther Bobby Rush. In 2004 Preckwinkle supported Obama during his improbable, successful run for the United States Senate.
Gus Savage had many competitive primary races during his career and never received more than 52 percent of the vote. In three successive primaries he was opposed by Mel Reynolds, a former Rhodes Scholar and a South Side professor. However, Savage had the advantage of running against multiple contenders until his final primary election on March 17, 1992, in which he faced only Reynolds.
Savage lost by 63 to 37 percent.