Chicago votes in House race dominated by gun control issue

CHICAGO Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:46am EST

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during his final State of the City speech at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York, February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during his final State of the City speech at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York, February 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago area voters on Tuesday choose a Democrat to succeed indicted former Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., in a race that has turned into the first major election clash on gun control since the Connecticut school massacre.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a champion of tighter gun controls, has poured more than $2 million from his political war chest into the contest in an effort to elect a candidate favoring tighter restrictions.

The Illinois lobbying group aligned with the gun rights group the National Rifle Association, has endorsed a candidate opposed to an assault weapons ban.

The outcome of the special election will be an indication of whether Bloomberg and other advocates of gun control can effectively challenge the money and political influence of the NRA, which has long been a powerful force in elections.

The special election is to fill the seat of Jackson, who resigned last November citing health problems, and pleaded guilty in federal court last week to using campaign funds for personal enrichment.

Jackson was a reliable vote in Congress for gun control. But early polls in the race to succeed him showed that the Democratic primary could be won by Debbie Halvorson, a candidate who has an "A" rating from the NRA and opposes a ban on assault weapons.

Bloomberg elbowed into the race, blanketing Chicago television with ads attacking Halvorson and endorsing Robin Kelly, who supports tighter gun restrictions.

With 14 candidates in the race, the outcome is unpredictable. One public poll published last Friday showed Halvorson holding a slim lead but some private polls have showed Kelly pulling ahead.

The race also is unpredictable because of Chicago's racially charged politics. The district is majority African-American although parts of it stretch south to the predominantly white outer suburbs of Chicago.

Halvorson, who is the only white candidate, has appealed to suburban voters who might be sympathetic to gun ownership. Kelly, who is black, has highlighted a plague of gun violence in Chicago's inner city.

The winner of the Democratic primary is likely to be elected to the seat because the district is overwhelmingly Democratic.

(Reporting by Renita Young; writing by Greg McCune; editing by Jackie Frank)

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Comments (7)
idonthinkso wrote:
Illinois voters will elect the same crooked politicians they’ve elected for years.

That or the same crooked politicians will rig the elections as always.

Feb 26, 2013 7:50am EST  --  Report as abuse
akrozbi wrote:
Does anyone see a pattern emerging? This article plainly illustrates Bloomberg’s personal attack on firearms ownership. Dominate the vote and force legislation against firearms ownership. Where might this lead? Can this approach be used with other Constitutionally protected rights?
BTW – no one can advocate for universal background checks. The fine print doesn’t exist. How do we know what will be in the final proposal? Is this an example of political leadership? Universal background checks absolutely equals firearms registration which leads to confiscation. Don’t believe me? Ask Mayor Bloomberg.

Feb 26, 2013 8:14am EST  --  Report as abuse
JamVee wrote:
idnotthinkso has said it very well.

But I must add that Bloomberg, who obviously has “dictatorial” tendencies and a whole lot of MONEY, should stick to NY and mind his own business. Every time I hear a liberal call the Republicans “the part of the Rich”, Bloomberg and Soros, who are cut from similar cloth and are both multimillionaires, jump to mind.

Feb 26, 2013 8:24am EST  --  Report as abuse
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