Robin Kelly: Who Is the Bloomberg-Backed ‘Gun Control Candidate’ of Chicago?

If the maxim "all politics are local" is true, then maybe Democrats in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District need reminding.

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AP / Charles Rex Arbogast

Robin Kelly celebrates her special primary election win for Illinois' 2nd Congressional District.

If the maxim “all politics are local” is true, then maybe Democrats in Illinois‘ 2nd Congressional District need reminding.

On Tuesday, voters in a primary here overwhelmingly picked Robin Kelly to compete for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s congressional seat in a special election on April 9. Behind Kelly stood a very non-Chicagoan political action committee, Independence USA, which is funded by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and spent some $2 million on television ads against Kelly’s main opponent, former Rep. Debbie Halverson. Bloomberg, nearing the end of his third term as mayor, is making gun control his next big project; the election of Kelly over Halverson — a Democrat who received high marks from the National Rifle Association — was the opening salvo in what’s expected to be a wider campaign.

(MORE: Chicago Teen Who Performed at Obama Inauguration Slain in Shooting)

Kelly, running largely on a gun control platform, took an early stand on the issue back in November, as the seat in this district came open with Jackson’s resignation in the face of federal fraud charges. It was a platform that  appealed to people in a district plagued with rampant gun violence, particularly on the South Side of Chicago. (More than 500 people were killed by gun violence in 2012, and this year the number is projected to grow even higher.)

Kelly, wasn’t directly endorsed by Bloomberg’s PAC — the group aired ads that largely emphasized her opponent’s ties to the NRA. She also maintained that she and the Mayor did not know each other and that she did not know that he would spend so much money to defeat her opponent.

“You sent a message that was heard around our state and across the nation,” Kelly said to voters in her victory address on Tuesday. “A message that tells the NRA that their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end.”

(MORE:  Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty to Federal Conspiracy Charges; Wife Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud)

But aside from her stance on gun control and her all-but-assured win on April 9 in this heavily Democratic district, what else do we know about this 56-year-old former state representative? Here are a few fast facts:

  • Born April 30, 1956 in New York City. She has two children with her husband, Nathaniel.
  • Attended Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., where she earned her bachelors and masters degrees. She later completed a Ph.D in political science at Northern Illinois University.
  • Worked in a variety of government and academic jobs before entering politics, including as Minority Student Services Director at Bradley University; Community Affairs Director for Matteson, Illinois; and Cook County Chief Administrative Officer.
  • Elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2002 and won three terms. After being reelected for a third term, which she won after running unopposed, Kelly resigned to serve as chief of staff to Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. In 2010 she ran for Treasurer herself, but lost narrowly to Illinois State Senator Dan Rutherford.
  • Announced her candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District in January, becoming one of 16 candidates vying for Jesse Jackson Jr’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She won the Feb. 26 primary with 52% of the vote, although a snowstorm and “lack of voter interest” kept turnout down to about 15%.
  • In addition to her gun control proposals — which include an assault weapons ban, curtailing concealed carry permits and the closure of the so-called “gun show loophole” — Kelly also campaigned on a platform of help for low-income Americans, backing the Affordable Care Act, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and aid for needy families.
  • Kelly will run against the winner of the Republican primary, activist and convicted felon Paul McKinley, in the April 9 special election.

MORE: Chicago District ‘Disappointed’ in ex-Congressman

10 comments
PasqualeFranco
PasqualeFranco

This is how stupid these gun laws are. I'm in the process of getting my rifle/ shotgun license in nyc. They're giving me a hard time obtaining the license due to an arrest 3 years ago. Now!!! The arrest has absolutely nothing to do with guns or violence. So why hold that against me. This is a form if double jeapardy in my eyes. How many times will i have to be subjected to punishment. My point being though, i own guns. I clearly stated to the reps in charge that i have guns. I'm doing the state a favor by disclosing this info by being granted a license. If i had any bad intension i definitely wouldn't go through the steps of licensing my arms. I believe in the second amendment. In my opinion the second amendment protects the first amendment.

Sue_N
Sue_N

I'm no fan of Bloomberg, or of the rising flood of money into our politics, but it's great to see an NRA candidate beaten back. As Kelly said, hopefully this shows that the NRA isn't invulnerable and proves a first step in prying that group's hands from our national throat.

RileyReid
RileyReid

DON'T LET THEM INSULT YOUR INTELLIGENCE

Using the misleading “Gun Violence/Deaths" is an often used statistic used by pro-gun control folks. It's misuse is what made me raise my eyebrow and look into the debate as a whole because I had previously been in the middle about gun control, slightly leaning left on the issue, as I do on many social issues.

The goal of gun-control is to promote a safer environment by reducing violent crime and homicides. Using "Gun Crime" stats begins with the assumption that guns are the problem and excludes any other possible explanations for the problem of violent crime and homicides and therefore it's use is deceptive and misleading. If gun violence/deaths go down, but violence/deaths by other means goes up to make up for the reduction, or even EXCEED the original statistics, the goal of a safer environment is NOT met.

If this is the case, it would mean: 1. You're imposing a costly and ongoing program than does not have a positive effect and possibly has a negative effect. This is potentially dangerous and squanders resources that can go toward something that DOES work. 2. You are impeding on guaranteed constitutional rights of individuals to protect themselves, upheld by supreme court decisions.

The next time you see some stooge on TV talking about “gun crime” stats, I hope you'll ask yourself why they have to resort to deception to make their points.

bobell
bobell

I have a question for you: Do you think there is any connection between the hundreds of millions of firearms in this country and the fact that the per capita rate of deaths due to firearms is massively higher in the U.S. than in those countries that closely regulate or strictly limit private possession of firearms?

PasqualeFranco
PasqualeFranco

@bobell. You are so wrong. Chicago has one of the highest gun crime rates in the country. Yet they have the strongest gun laws. Actually guns are outlawed. Criminals will get their hands on guns regardless. You have to accept the fact that you can't get rid of guns. The same way drugs find there way into our country is the same way guns will mysteriously jump borders and be sold on the streets. This is why we need guns. Lets focus on criminals and mentally unstable people. Don't infringe on my right to protect myself.

MattB
MattB

 @bobell 

Facts have proven year after year, speaking deaths related by guns, America is generally at the top of the list. America is the overwhelming leader when it comes to the pure number of guns in a country. However, going by per capita as you have said, America doesn't even rank in the top ten. What does this say about overall violence by guns? As Riley pointed out, when you take away one means, that doesn't remove the human emotion called anger and thwart homicide altogether. Something will come along and replace it, knives, Britain??? 

 All numbers to back this up are in fact found on government websites and are available freely from such sources as the FBI. I'm all for debates, but very much dislike reading/hearing emotional facts make it in to conversations.   

Furthermore, by Bloomberg and his political machine sticking his agenda and money into an area that has nothing to do with the citizens he is elected to represent just shows that he has overstayed his service and it's time for him to move out. 

MattB
MattB

@AfGuy

You're not even on the same train of thought here. In the absence of one medium, another replaces it. My imagination is the studying of the effects of firearm bans in places outside of America, where firearm bans have already taken place. WHY does it have to be a mass killing to have something break the news and gather attention? Each person counts, why do we feel the need to sensationalize those that are involved in a large event and rarely hear about the thousands of homicides where only one or two were involved here and there? In the case of Sandy Hook, yes, very tragic. That many kids die every day in certain parts of the world, why not a news piece on each one of them? Easy, it's impossible to report everything but even more important, it's not journalistic sensationalism.

It doesn't always take a gun to get the job done. Oklahoma City - bomb, 93' WTC - bomb, 2001 WTC - plane hijackings using boxcutters, Bath, Michigan school massacre - dynamite, and so on. If you prefer a story about a country where guns are nearly extinct, Chengpeng Primary school - 22 stabbed. It's not about mass killing sprees though or the means used to do so. What it is about though is each and every individual that dies by the hands of another, but it apparently has to be a large event to blip on your radar. The percentage of deaths by mass events is a very small piece of the pie compared to all the lesser events that add together and make up the rest of it, each death isn't any less important than the next.

People have been killing one another since the days of Cain and Abel, do we need to police-state ourselves and ban every "weapon" with the possibility to kill all the way back to this era? Firearms are a relatively new thing in comparison to man's existence. Should we simply follow our fellow friends in Britain, ban private firearm ownership, watch overall violent crime rise, and then move on to banning the replacement medium of knives over a certain length and radius tip? Where does it stop before people look in a mirror and say the words, "I am responsible for my actions and the things I do and have done are because those actions are the extension of my will."? I get it, but just have a hard time coming to terms that we as a society have progressed past the point of self-accountability and that so many of us feel better and our actions are more just when we find something to blame besides ourselves.

Hopefully, others out there try to move past the left and the right issues, learn more past what the mainstream media decides to report and tell us (not like we're in an age of bias reporting anyway), and make decisions not based on emotional feeling but rather the hidden facts

AfGuy
AfGuy

@MattB @bobell 

Yes, we all remember the stories of someone walking into a theatre or school with a bagload of knives, baseball bats, or hammers and killing a large number of people.

I'm sure it was in all the news sources you find in the hallways of your imagination...

MattB
MattB

@bobell  

This is an excuse I very much like to hear. Where firearms are banned, firearm-related homicides SHOULD be lower in that area. In most cases, this is the result, but not always. Going one step further and looking at the big picture though (and this is very key), viewing a line graph, the line indicating overall violence remains relatively unchanged from before a ban through after the ban. If anything, it has shown to go up slightly in most cases afterward. Going off of what you said though, the violence by means of firearms drop, but the lines indicating everything from blunt instruments, to knives, arson, and every other means in between rises and trade places with it. 

Numbers are good, but stepping back and looking at an entire picture gives a much better understanding on how best to interpret those numbers and what the outcome or trend might be should one data set be eliminated. In the defense of firearms, they are a tool, they do nothing when left alone by humans. It's past time that blame and accountability for certain actions carried out be pointed at the actual cause. In addition, over at least the past twenty years, name how many killing sprees have not had something mentioned about mental-illness or mood-inducing prescription drugs. This part has a lot of merit and needs much more attention than inanimate objects.     

bobell
bobell

@MattB What I did was compare fiream fatalities per capita in the US against fatalities in countries that regulate or limit firearm ownership.  If you have access to data showing that I am incorrect in saying that the rate in the US far exceeds that in the coutries to which I was comparing it, please post the data, or at least a link.  Here's something to support what I said:

http://www.businessinsider.com/shooting-gun-laws-2012-12

A bit of simple googling leads to many more cites with similar charts.

Your move.