CHICAGO – Former Illinois legislator Robin Kelly captured the Democratic nomination Tuesday in the race to replace disgraced ex-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., after a truncated campaign season where she got a boost from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC.
The nomination all but assures that Kelly will sail through the April 9 general election and head to Washington because the Chicago-area district is overwhelmingly Democratic.
From a crowded field of Democratic contenders, Kelly emerged early as a leader on gun-control issues – a central theme during the race – which helped her win support from Bloomberg’s super PAC, Independence USA.
It poured more than $2 million into the race by airing anti-gun ads in her favor and against another Democratic front-runner, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who unlike Kelly is against banning assault weapons.
We worked really, really hard, Kelly, a former state representative from Matteson, a south Chicago suburb, told The Associated Press. We were on the right side of the issue and our message resonated.
She defended the financial support from Bloomberg, saying: No one complains when the NRA was spending big money.
Halvorson conceded Tuesday evening, saying the outside money certainly played a roll.
It shows, unfortunately, you can’t go up against that big money. ... That’s the problem with super PACs, Halvorson, who unsuccessfully challenged Jackson in a primary last year, told the AP. There is nothing I could have done differently.