Independence USA's new ad attacking Debbie Halvorson
There have been a number of key developments recently in the race to succeed ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District. Most importantly, it seems that the crowded field has largely winnowed down to three serious contenders: ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, and ex-state Rep. Robin Kelly. Indeed, another candidate, freshman state Sen. Napoleon Harris, just dropped out
and threw his support to Kelly on Wednesday, while state Sen. Donne Trotter, a former candidate and well-connected local leader, endorsed her
a day earlier.
What I find most remarkable, though, is how the Sandy Hook tragedy seems to have focused this race on an issue that I can't ever recall seeing featured so prominently in a Democratic primary: guns. But this district, centered on some of the most impoverished parts of Chicago's South Side and riven by violence, is certainly one place where this debate has particular resonance. Indeed, on Tuesday, just blocks away from the 2nd's northern edge, a 15-year-old high school student who had just attended the inauguration was shot dead in a park.
And when it comes to gun violence, Kelly is the only member of the trio with the kind of record that's in tune with the voters of this district. She's made gun control a central part of her campaign and says she "could not be more proud" of her lifetime "F" rating from the NRA. Hutchinson and Halvorson, meanwhile, have both earned "A"s from the group, but Halvorson's views are by far the more appalling:
Halvorson, who has supported allowing guns in national parks and opposed legislation to ban large-capacity firearm magazines, is unapologetic about her views on guns. Chicago voters, she said, have no desire for some of the gun control measures being promoted after the Newtown, Conn., massacre.
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"I'm not willing to change my stance," Halvorson told POLITICO. "Wherever I go, people beg me to keep my stance, not to give in to public pressure."
That stubbornness has prompted the involvement of NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who used his Super PAC last cycle to target anti-gun control candidates and is now doing so again. Independence USA is up with the first ad of the race, reportedly backed by a $375,000 buy, attacking Halvorson over guns. (It's embedded at the top of this post.)
Halvorson quickly started singing a different tune in response to this development:
"My win will not be a victory for the NRA," Halvorson said. "This will be a big victory for having someone at the table who can speak to both sides of this issue. That's the victory that having me win will be."
She's definitely stung, calling the ads
an "act of desperation," but her woes are certainly far from over. Kelly has demanded both Halvorson and Hutchinson release their NRA questionnaires, which Halvorson has refused to do, saying
"I haven't filled one out in years, so I don't see how releasing one would make a difference," she said. "I'm not even seeking the NRA's endorsement."
But if she hasn't "changed her stance," as she told Politico, then there shouldn't be any problem with releasing those old questionnaires, right? Halvorson is projecting, though, when she accuses her opponents of "trying to change the subject"—guns are
the subject, and Halvorson is the one trying to change it. Hopefully she won't be allowed to, because hoever wins this primary will likely do so with a small plurality. Internal polling shows Halvorson could pull this off, tut with her obnoxious attitude, she can't lose fast enough.