Voters in Chicago’s 2nd congressional district are going to the polls today to choose the Democrat and Republican who will compete for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s seat in the April 9 general election.
Because the 2nd district is so heavily Democratic, the real battle for the seat is among the 14 Democratic primary candidates. Any Democrat who would be victorious today is considered a lock to win the general election. There are also four Republicans running for their party nomination.
Jackson resigned in November, citing his battles with bipolar disorder, and has since pled guilty to misusing hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars on personal expenses. His wife, former alderman Sandra Jackson, pled guilty to filing false income-tax returns from 2006 through 2011. The former congressman faces a possible prison sentence of 46 to 57 months, though some are calling for a lighter sentence, claiming that Jackson’s spending sprees with campaign cash — in addition to other bizarre behavior over the years — were consistent with someone with bipolar disorder.
Among the 14-Democrat field, there are three real front-runners: former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Alderman Anthony Beale and former state Rep. Robin Kelly. Observers seem to think Halvorson, who is white, is leading the field, with a recent poll by Victory Research for WCKG-AM Radio showing her at 21 percent, and Kelly with 17 percent.
But a poll by We Ask America, reported Saturday by Fox Chicago, showed Kelly, who is black, with a commanding 18-point lead over Halvorson, with Kelly at 37 percent to Halvorson’s 19 percent.
Strangely, an influential factor in the race has been the gun control PAC, Independence USA, run by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which has spent more than $1 million in ads attacking Halvorson for her “A” rating from the NRA — a big issue in Chicago considering the gun violence that has been plaguing the city. The ads say Halvorson’s “record on gun safety has been entirely devoid of any semblance of the kind of common-sense reforms that will keep Americans safer from the scourge of gun violence.”
But many think the ads are backfiring, spurred on by Halvorson, who has been attacking Bloomberg for trying to influence the Chicago race.
“The first thing out of their mouths is, we’re sick of those commercials,” she said of voters, adding that they are telling her: “We’re voting for you, we don’t want the mayor of New York coming in and trying to buy a seat in Congress.”
Some have accused Kelly of having ties to Bloomberg’s PAC, which she calls “ridiculous.”
Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago has also endorsed Kelly, saying she “supports common sense gun control measures such as a comprehensive ban on assault weapons, the elimination of gun show loopholes and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.”