In Chicago election dominated by gun violence, New York's mayor makes big imprint
February 26th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
2 years ago

In Chicago election dominated by gun violence, New York's mayor makes big imprint

(CNN) - Gun control is front and center in the first congressional special election of 2013, a Chicago contest that's also feeling the heavy involvement of New York City's mayor, who's spent more than $2 million on the race.

Tuesday's primary election is the first step in filling the vacant seat in Illinois' second congressional district, which until recently was held by Democrat Jesse Jackson, Jr., who pleaded guilty in federal court last week to using campaign funds for personal use.

The election is the first congressional contest since December's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which put gun control back into the national political spotlight. And the district includes some areas hit hard by the increased gun violence in Chicago. Some 535 people were murdered in the city last year, according to local crime statistics, up from 433 in 2011. January already set a bloody record, with some 43 people killed.

There are more than a dozen candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, where the winner needs a simple plurality. And in the district, which includes parts of Chicago's South Side and has long been dominated by Democrats, the winner of the party's primary will be considered the frontrunner in the April 9 general election.

Jackson, who held the seat for 17 years, was a reliable vote in favor of gun control. Some polls last month suggested former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who had an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, and who opposes an assault weapons ban, was a leading contender in the Democratic primary.

Enter New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a leading advocate for gun control. His Independence USA political action committee has spent more than $2 million to run spots on Chicago television attacking Halvorson's position on gun control. Bloomberg's campaign also spotlights state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who also had an "A" rating from the NRA.

Bloomberg's PAC is backing former state Rep. Robin Kelly, a strong supporter of gun control efforts.

"There is no question the New York City mayor's multi-million dollar investment has had an outsized impact in the race," says Jessica Taylor, senior analyst and reporter for the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. "The Independence PAC has been carpet bombing the district with expensive broadcast TV ads boosting Kelly, and Kelly is the only candidate with enough money to go up on cable, also with an ad touting her record on gun control."

Halvorson is white, while Kelly and Hutchinson are black. Hutchinson dropped out of the race two weeks before primary day, as she came under attack by the commercials from Bloomberg's PAC, but also amid concerns that she and Kelly would split the African American vote.

Gun control has long mattered in Chicago elections and the Sandy Hook shootings have put the issue back in the spotlight nationally. The big question is whether the controversial issue will continue to dominate as next year's midterm elections draw closer.

"While it's very easy for a special election to become an incubator for the national issue of the day, it is less clear the issue will resonate on a national scale in 2014," adds Taylor.


Filed under: Congress • Illinois
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. CraigM

    Chicago has some of the toughest gun control laws in American yet it is leading our cities in murders?? Unless the city of Chicago goes after gangs with a vengence there will be no let up in murders in the Juarez, Mexico, of the United States! And as to Mayor Bloomberg, who the heck does he think he is? This is Chicago not New York City. Michael Bloomberg is rich and aggrogrant and thinks he can buy any vote he wants with his millions and those of his cohorts. This is what is wrong with America today are all the PACs who get involved in local elections and they are basically from the outside. They use millions of dollars to influence elections where the donors don't even live, such as the ego-driven Bloomberg. These large PACs, whether they are Republican or Democrat, are what is responsible for the chaos in elections in this country. They simply buy elections through finanical brainwashing! Bloomber needs to take his PAC and put it where the sun doesn't shine!

    February 26, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  2. Name lynn

    All the talking about what can be done about the guns an gun laws, no one can do nothing about the how the people is getting guns. The crimminals an uncrimmials is getting guns in their hands, shooting an killing people.

    February 26, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  3. Name lynn

    All these people in high places talking about what can be done about the guns an gun laws, no one can do nothing about the how the people is getting guns. The crimminals an uncrimmials is getting guns in their hands, shooting an killing people.

    February 26, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  4. Donna

    Interesting... where is all the Democratic outrage at this billionaire liberal from another state interfering with a local election and trying to buy it? If is fun to see the liberal left eat their own as they try to keep the law abiding citizens of Chicago defenseless as the gangs and drug dealers kill them one by one. Wake up people of Chicago. The politicians and police cannot protect you and your family. PROTECT YOURSELF with a firearm. Don't let them disarm you and make you the next victim of their insane policies.

    February 26, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  5. thomase

    I hope that they do go with a gun control advocate. Chicago, LA and New York City have a very low gun violence per capita and they really should be a symbol for all.

    Was 5.5-7.0 per 100,000 in 2010, don't let people fool you just by saying they have the highest incidents. They also have the highest population.

    February 26, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  6. Ed1

    Toughest gun laws in the Country and you die hard liberals think we need more.

    The whole lot of are just plain stupid enforce what you have now.

    February 26, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Chicago's gun problem is that you buy most any gun you want just outside of Cook county. Combine that with the overturned concealed handgun ban, a weak economy, reduced city services, higher taxes, too many people under stress, and you have a recipe for what you see.

    February 26, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  8. rs

    The unfortunate reality is that while Chicago, Il. had more than 500 people killed by gun violence last year, that by far that is not the sum of gun deaths in America- despite what the NRA/GOP say.

    Reality, to date since the Newtown Massacre in mid-December, more that 2,300 Americans have died needlessly by firearms. These deaths have occurred in every state, in towns large and small and in cities and in the country.

    If these deaths were caused by defective products, or by illness or disease or because of some sort of personal choice (like smoking), the population would be up in arms, and politicians would be working to fix the situation. Gun deaths cost America millions of dollars each year.

    But no, the cowards of the GOP would rather arm teachers to hold off a maniac than go up against the (paying) lunatics of the NRA. Shameful.

    February 26, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  9. v_mag

    There's no doubt the country needs serious gun control, but the Repugnant Party needs to consider "gum control". They have been steadily losing voters and continue to do so the more they flap their gums.

    February 26, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    The Dem socialists will replace the disgraced Jackson, with yet another, corrupt candidate.

    February 26, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. much thunder.little rain

    how about out law gangs...there is chicago problem...

    February 26, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  12. rs

    Ed1

    Toughest gun laws in the Country and you die hard liberals think we need more.
    ----------–
    Why is it so hard for these folks to fail to grasp the obvious? What the GOP/NRA says on Chicago is largely false.
    1. the "strictest" gun law was overturned.
    2. Not all firearm deaths occur in Chicago
    3. It isn't "die-hard liberals" it is 70 % of the American population being bullied by the 1.4% in the Crazy NRA/GOP

    February 26, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  13. Ed1

    There are more children killed every week (50) by cars and trucks backing over them than guns. Tell it like it is people take all the cars off the roads that don't have back up cameras and we will be much safer and think of the lives and money that would be saved more than more gun laws.

    The 50 children per week came right out of USA Today weekender a month or so ago so Rudy NY that goes for you too rs look it up.

    February 26, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  14. rs

    Rick McDaniel

    The Dem socialists will replace the disgraced Jackson, with yet another, corrupt candidate.
    -----
    As opposed to the National -Socialist Tea Party people who pick....?

    See Rick- name calling can go both ways.
    Grow up.

    February 26, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Will Greene

    It’s funny how Chicago has one of America’s toughest gun laws yet crime there she higher than most cities. Obama said that he wants us as a country to follow Chicago as an example? Wow all this tells me is that they do want to ban the guns; they know that the background check won’t work. Also by the way they’re all talking about guns but they’re not talking about the people behind these shootings and the mentally illness that they have. These people obviously need help, not all gun owners are mentally ill (crazy) in fact this is just making people paranoid/fearful. Also think of it this way even if they did decide to ban all arm weapons. That doesn’t mean all of a sudden all the criminals will start following the law like average citizens. If anything crime could actually increase especially with a country of this size. In central Africa supposedly they have a gun ban even though there seems to be a civil war every couple of years. Basically I’m saying regardless of the law people will do what they want to do.

    February 26, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  16. Sniffit

    The measure of a society's abilty to progress, or even survive, is its willingness to to recognize when blind adherence to anachronisitic tradition has become maladaptive and then mobilize to address the problem.

    Enjoy your Darwin Award, Amurika.

    February 26, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  17. Sniffit

    "Why is it so hard for these folks to fail to grasp the obvious? What the GOP/NRA says on Chicago is largely false.
    1. the "strictest" gun law was overturned.
    2. Not all firearm deaths occur in Chicago
    3. It isn't "die-hard liberals" it is 70 % of the American population being bullied by the 1.4% in the Crazy NRA/GOP"
    ==

    Not to mention the fact that, unless gun control laws are standardized, nationalized and universalized, all some punk in Chicago has to do is go down to some whackadoo gun-nut state and snag himself a gun in a "private" transaction without any background or fitness-to-carry checks and without any registration of the firearm. THAT is your "black market"....legalized loopholes that consitute nothing more than nationalized negligence.

    February 26, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  18. rs

    Ed1

    There are more children killed every week (50) by cars and trucks backing over them than guns. Tell it like it is people take all the cars off the roads that don't have back up cameras and we will be much safer and think of the lives and money that would be saved more than more gun laws.
    ____________________________
    cars are things with a great variety of uses. Guns have one: to kill.

    This argument of yours is called a "false logic".

    February 26, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. NickAnast

    92% of all Americans (including more than 70% of NRA members) support mandatory background checks on ALL gun purchases. Yet the GOP and Wayne LaPierre, the lapdog for the gun industry, say No. And the GOP wonders why it keeps losing elections.

    February 26, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. Charlie Daniels

    Right Rudy. Imagine this – A bad guy decides he wants to go rob somebody. What does he do? Leave Cook County and go file a 4473 and buy a gun. Then he drives back and kills somebody because he is too lazy to work and is stressed out – as you say. His environment made him do it – what a cop out. That is the most ludicrousc crap I have ever heard. The reality is that the bad guy already has a gun or is going to ask Tyrone for his and commit the crime because he is a worthless piece of garbage and a drain on society. Let it continue and it will clean itself up in time.

    February 26, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  21. rs

    Mr. Greene-

    Wow- lots to deal with in your NRA-fueled post. You too have the false statement about Chicago's gun law. Read the above. As to gun registrations they do work. One of the GOP governors on "Meet the Press" Sunday talked about catching (and prosecuting) criminals who were applying to buy guns. Meanwhile, you appear a mite confused on who is guilty- the gangs or the people with mental illness. Does it seem odd to you that the country might create lists of people with (undefined) mental illness or who might be "dangerous children", but not guns? You would trample other's rights, but negate your own responsibility as a gun owner?
    2,300 dead since Newtown. Maybe when it happens to someone you care about you'll figure it out.

    February 26, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Ed1

    There are more children killed every week (50) by cars and trucks backing over them than guns.
    ---------------
    How many times do we have to point out how far off the mark that argument is? Okay, so let's argue it your way, or in terms that you seem to appreciate and understand. We have traffic laws, which prescribe how motor vehicles should be used, and NOT used. These laws affect everyone, including "law abiding citizens". If we did not have laws that prohibited unrestricted use of the gas pedal, better known as speeding, there would be far more traffic deaths. Thus, we have laws, policies and coeas that define traffice hardware, signage, tolls, bridge construction as well as construction of the motor vehicles themselves.

    "Nice try, but we gotcha."

    February 26, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  23. Travis

    For those whom think the 2nd amendment is so anachronistic and should be discarded... I'd wager you'd not be so keen to remove an even older, and even more dated one, the 1st. Your arguments to the absurd are not appreciated.

    February 26, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  24. rs

    The gun industry lobby has no imagination- they want to compare accidental automobile deaths to gun murders as somehow being equal, but then freak out when you show them how ideal it would be to apply automobile style licensing and registration to guns. "Why, they'll have lists, and they'lltake our guns!". Yet not a one of them can point to a time in history when that has happened- with a gun OR a car.
    They just can't differentiate betweeen "wants" and "needs", and certainly don't grasp "responsibility".

    February 26, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. rs

    Charlie Daniels
    ...or wind up in anarchy- the real TEA Partyers' dream.

    February 26, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
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