Top contender for Jackson Jr. seat tries to take weapon through airport, fails.

When Jesse Jackson Jr. was forced to vacate his seat in Congress because he decided to use donor funds to furnish a couple of his campaign offices and mistresses, it became clear pretty fast that the slate of potential replacements was, in short, flawed.

First to throw his hat in the ring was Mel Reynolds, the disgraced former Congressman who preceded Jackson Jr. and was forced to vacate the seat himself when it became clear he was both a child predator and a tax cheat, as though one or the other wasn’t normally enough to cost him elected office in Chicago.

And then there’s Donne Trotter, an Illinois State Senator who announced his candidacy for Jackson Jr.’s seat this weekend and was generally considered the frontrunner. Trotter, for his part, isn’t a controversial candidate, having served without incident in the Illinois legislature since 1988. He must have viewed his relatively clean record as a net negative, however, since he decided it was only appropriate to earn his own media by attempting to board a plane at O’Hare International Airport packing a firearm in his carry-on.

Trotter, a Chicago Democrat who has served in the state legislature since 1988, was charged with a Class 4 felony, according to a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

A Chicago police officer responded to a call of a handgun that showed on an X-ray machine at Checkpoint No. 2 in Terminal 1 around 7 a.m., police said. When police and an agent from the Transportation Security Administration realized the bag belonged to Trotter, they escorted him to a nearby room to interview him, police said.

Authorities found a .25-caliber Beretta in his garment bag, and a clip containing six live rounds in a separate side pocket, according to police, who said the gun was not loaded.

Apparently, the job of an Illinois legislator either doesn’t pay enough or isn’t exciting enough for Trotter, who seems to have taken a second job moonlighting as a security guard, thus enabling him to carry a concealed, but unloaded, weapon. Ironically, Trotter was a vocal opponent of a measure to allow concealed carry in the state of Illinois when a vote on the subject was held back in the 1990s.

Also, in case those at home were keeping score, Trotter’s arrest brings the count of sitting Illinois legislators facing some kind of criminal charge up to three. Which, if you think about it, is pretty anemic for Illinois. Trotter’s Class 4 felony does pale in comparison, however, to his co-workers’ charges which include bank fraud and bribery.

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