On a day when the NewYork Times spotlighted Chicago's horrendous problems with gun violence, New York's billionaire mayor is targeting a Chicago-area Congressional candidate who has opposed gun control in the past.
"Watch out for Debbie Halvorson," warns the TV ad getting heavy airplay during newscasts on Chicago TV stations. The ad, paid for by the Independence USA political action committee, points out that Democrat Halvorson got an A rating from the National Rifle Association when she was in Congress between 2009 and 2011.
Halvorson is the group's first major target. She's one of 17 Democrats running in a February 26 primary to succeed Jesse Jackson, Jr. in Congress. Her position on guns would seem to be out of step with Jackson's territory— the NRA gave him an F rating last year, when he defeated Halvorson handily at the polls.
Halvorson has never represented Jackson's district, IL-2. She was elected in 2008 from the far more conservative IL-11.
She's the front-runner to succeed Jackson, though, largely because she's the only well-known white candidate. 55% of voters in IL-2 are African-American, but there are 5 black candidates of some renown who might well split black votes to an extent that Halvorson could slip in.
Gun-control backers are horrified by that prospect, and hope that highlighting the issue will hurt Halvorson with voters who've endured lots of shooting violence.
Halvorson's campaign website gives her position on eight different issues, but gun control— indeed, crime generally— isn't on the list. But debbiehalvorson.com does point out:
"While in Congress, Debbie was one of President Obama’s top supporters. In fact, she has a 90% record of support for the President’s initiatives—one of the highest in Illinois."
President Obama, of course, says he's anxious for Congress to pass a lot of legislation the NRA has opposed. The Independence USA ad recites a list:
"The NRA— against comprehensive background checks, against banning deadly assault weapons, against banning high-capacity ammunition clips... Debbie Halvorson— when it comes to preventing gun violence, she gets an F."
Will Halvorson continue to downplay her pro-NRA past, or say that recent gun violence warrants gun controls she has opposed in the past? Will the NRA put its considerable resources to work for Halvorson, or sponsor ads attacking her main opponents?
Stay tuned— Halvorson's campaign says she'll call this afternoon.