February 27, 2013
By Robert W. Hunnicutt
Billionaire bully and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was kvelling after a candidate he supported with $2.2 million in campaign cash won the Democratic primary in a special election to replace disgraced Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Chicago.
Former state Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, pulled in 52 percent of the vote to top former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Crete, who amassed 24 percent. Halvorson, who previously represented a rural district that was eliminated after the 2010 U.S. Census, had earned an A rating from NRA — that was enough to get her a carpet-bombing from Bloomberg.
Kelly is virtually guaranteed to capture the seat in an overwhelmingly Democratic district. She will follow Jackson, who pled guilty to misappropriating campaign funds. Jackson got the seat after its previous occupant, Melvin Reynolds, was convicted of statutory rape, solicitation of child pornography and obstruction of justice.
Kelly campaigned as an anti-gun crusader even before the Newtown massacre, and doubled down after it. She called her victory a referendum on guns:
"You sent a message that was heard around our state and across the nation, A message that tells the NRA that their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end.
"To every leader in the fight for gun control ready to work with President (Barack) Obama and Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel to stop this senseless violence, thank you for your leadership and thank you for your courage."
Well, not so fast.
Halvorson was always going to be a long shot as a white woman running in a district dominated by the largely black Chicago South Side. Her hopes for victory rested almost entirely on the possibility of multiple black candidates splitting the vote of that community. That didn't happen.
The rural, largely white parts of the district add up to only about 10 percent of the population. Kanakakee County, for example, has a population of only 113,000. So while Halvorson's stronghold — which she carried handily — contains lots of acres, it has relatively few people. I'd say that if your home turf contains less than 10 percent of the electorate and you wind up winning 24 percent of the total, you didn't do all that bad.
Claiming the result as a big defeat for NRA is bogus, but that didn't stop plutocrat Bloomberg from bragging about it. Halvorson got no open support or funds from the association, and the Illinois State Rifle Association only produced one last-minute mailer for her. The out-of-town money all came from Bloomberg.
That, of course, will not stop the chattering classes from citing this as some sort of Waterloo for the gun lobby. I would argue that if it takes $2.2 million and a blizzard to be sure you win a perfectly reliable den of progressivism like the 2nd district of Illinois, you're hardly ready to take on Georgia or Wyoming.