Politics

Bloomberg congratulates anti-gun Illinois Democrat he helped win special election

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Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

New York mayor and gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg issued a statement Tuesday night congratulating Robin Kelly on her victory in the special Democratic primary election to fill Jesse Jackson Jr.’s seat in the Illinois Second Congressional District.

Bloomberg’s statement, issued mere minutes after candidate Debbie Halvorson conceded the race to Kelly, did not mention Kelly by name, but did express pride that voters had acted on the issue of gun control. His super PAC, Independence USA, heavily supported Kelly’s candidacy and ran attack ads focused on Halvorson’s gun control record.

Kelly said in her victory speech that the National Rifle Association’s “days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end,” and that she looks forward to working with President Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on gun control efforts.

“This is an important victory for common sense leadership on gun violence, a problem that plagues the whole nation. And it’s the latest sign that voters across the country are demanding change from their representatives in Washington — not business as usual. As Congress considers the President’s gun package, voters in Illinois have sent a clear message: we need common sense gun legislation now. Now it’s up to Washington to act,” Bloomberg said in his statement.

Bloomberg’s Independence USA spent more than $2 million to defeat Halvorson, a former congresswoman who ran with a strategy criticizing corruption in Chicagoland politics. The PAC attacked Halvorson with both television ads and mailers.

“We all know how rough it was for me to have to run an election against someone who spent ($2.2) million against me,” Halvorson told supporters after losing the race. “Every 7½ minutes there was a commercial.”

The liberal organization Progressive USA Voters, which is housed in the same Denver office building as the national liberal group ProgressNow, offered people $9 to $11 per hour to join its campaign in the Chicago area attacking Halvorson’s gun control record.

Kelly is expected to easily win the general election on April 9 and take her seat in Congress.

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