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

    It is not about gun control. It is all about "control." That is the reality.

    February 26, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. Sniffit

    "Imagine this "

    And therein lies the problem for the GOP/Teatrolls/NRA/gun fetishists. It's all wild imaginings.

    "or is going to ask Tyrone for his "

    Oh...and racism...don't forget the racism.

    February 26, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. rs


    It is not about gun control. It is all about "control." That is the reality.
    This from the party that wants to completely control female reproduction? That's a hoot!

    February 26, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "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."

    Nobody wants to discard the 2nd Amendment. We want it interpreted sanely and reasonably AS IS ALREADY THE LAW, which allows reasonable limitations and regulation of guns, gun ownership, gun transactions, etc....which includes bans on certain types of weapons, registries for ownership and transactions and limitations of firearm paraphernalia. Your reliance on strawmen indicates that you're still of the childish mentality that likes to play with dolls. Perhaps you should do that instead of playing with guns.

    February 26, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Name lynn

    Whats the meaning of gun control, no one can control the peoople nor the guns. The people is controling the guns no the guns controling the people. Its a shame that is like that.

    February 26, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. pbtad

    I don't care what the issue is. If I lived in Chicago and the mayor of NYC stepping to tell me who to vote for, I'd vote for the other candidate just on principle.

    Chicago should decide who is elected in Chicago and no one from New York should have a say.

    February 26, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    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.
    "Sorry, Charlie." The violent crimes committed with handguns escalated dramatically after the handgun ban was lifted a few years ago. Why was it lifted? Because visitors to the city claimed that they had the right to carry handguns in their home cities and states, and that their rights were being infringed. [Never mind the whole states rights thing where one state must respect the laws of another state.] Your hypothetical scenarios have no basis in fact, nor in reality.

    Guns are easy to obtain in Chicago and their use has been made more permissive. Your criminals do not need to go buy a gun themselves. They can get someone else to go outside of Cook county to do it for them, who then sells the guns on the streets. Most of the murders in Chicago are committed with guns originally purchased in Kentucky. A disturbingly high percentage (20%?) of the guns used to commit murders come from a single gun store 20 miles from The Loop.

    February 26, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
1 2