In a race that hinged on gun control, anti-NRA candidate wins

In a high-profile Illinois congressional race that was dominated by the issue of gun control, the candidate who opposed the powerful NRA gun rights organization was the big winner on Tuesday.

Robin Kelly pulled 52 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District, the seat recently vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. She is favored to win the April 9 general election in the heavily Democratic district.

Kelly, who wants to ban assault weapons, emphasized her opposition to the NRA during the special election campaign and was backed by $2.2 million worth of TV ads purchased by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Independence USA SuperPAC.

Kelly’s chief rival, Debbie Halvorson, supported gun rights and received an “A” grade from the NRA but finished with only 24 percent of the vote.

In her victory speech, Kelly said the district’s voters sent “a message that tells the NRA that their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end. And their days of scaring Congress into submission on gun control are coming to a close.”

The Chicago election was the first major political race held in the wake of the December shooting incident in Newtown, Conn., that resulted in the deaths of 20 young school children.

Tags: Chicago , gun control , NRA , Robin Kelly , special congressional election