It’s NOT news: Paul McKinley, the Republican primary candidate selected by voters in the 2nd Congressional District to run for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s recently-vacated seat, was convicted for assault as a teenager and spent 14 years in prison. McKinley talked about serving time throughout his campaign – in fact, he considers public service an important part of his redemption process. Now Mike Flannery of Fox Chicago T.V. and local Republican activist Chris Robling are questioning the winning candidate’s qualifications – and other establishment Republicans are going along for the ride – with the goal of destroying McKinley’s campaign before it gets off the ground.

Ever since the stunning loss of the presidency and other elections by the GOP last November, Republicans have been wringing their hands over their disconnect from groups who ended up voting Democrat. Up pops the chance of a lifetime to turn over that new leaf. Democrats nominate an inept candidate (Robin Kelly) who has some issues left over from a staff job for Alex Giannoulias. New York Mayor Bloomberg sweeps into the Windy City to buy her primary election with $2.1 million of anti-2nd Amendment ads; clearly, the Democratic Party plans to make Chicago’s 2nd District election in April the centerpiece of the Obama gun control movement.

What an opening for the anti-Machine candidate Paul McKinley – whose conservative message is resonating with his community. The Axelrod coalition must be laughing to see Republican leaders join forces with so-called journalists to undermine a candidate who is, well, not quite part of their pre-chosen team. The Chicago Way has been a two-party effort ever since Republican governors like Jim Thompson and George Ryan first made their deals with the Democrats and created the bi-partisan mess that is known as Illinois. Read all about it, here and here.