Posted by on March 01, 2013 in Blog

By Jennine Vari

Spring 2013 Intern

Former Cook County Chief Administrative Officer and Illinois state representative Robin Kelly plowed through a crowded Democratic field to win the Party primary in a special election to fill Jesse Jackson Jr.’s vacant seat in the US House of Representatives. In the special primary election held on Tuesday, Kelly received 56 percent of the vote, defeating former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson.

Kelly’s victory is a reflection on the district’s attitudes towards tougher gun control. The former state representative ran on a platform calling for stricter gun laws, an issue that resonated with a community ravaged by gun violence. The 2nd Congressional district, located on the South-side of Chicago, has seen a rise in gun-related deaths over the past few years. Last year, the total number of homicides in the city reached 500, the highest since 2008. Illinois also has one of the largest Arab American populations in the US, with about 16,000 Arab Americans living in Chicago.

In her victory speech, Kelly was optimistic about the possibility of enacting tougher laws and focused on combatting gun violence: “You sent a message that was heard around our state and around the nation. A message that tells the NRA that their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end.”

The Illinois race was also an opportunity for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to push for stricter gun laws by investing heavily in Kelly’s campaign. Bloomberg’s super PAC, Independence USA, endorsed Kelly, contributed $2 million to her campaign, and helped tear down her NRA-backed opponent. They sent out direct mail and ran a TV ad criticizing Halvorson for her position and giving her an ‘F’ for gun control. In April, Kelly will face a Republican challenger in the general election. However, it is expected that she will easily win given the strong Democratic voter base.

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