"People hate Super PACs," says Congressional candidate Debbie Halvorson. "This may backfire on them."
Halvorson's referring to a TV ad she calls "deplorable and full of lies", an ad paid for by Independence USA PAC, a group created and funded (to the tune of $10-million plus) by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun control advocate. That ad is now getting heavy airplay in the Chicago media market, as I've written earlier.
She's clearly worried about it, holding a news conference on the subject Wednesday afternoon, and calling reporters who didn't attend afterwards, trying to rebut the accusation her views on guns are out of synch with the voters she wants to represent.
Halvorson doesn't deny that she was given an A rating by the National Rifle Association during an earlier stint in Congress, but rejects the ad's contention that she opposes "comprehensive background checks", saying she supports closing the so-called "gun show loophole" and doing a background check on every gun buyer.
She also claims the ad's wrong in claiming she'd be against banning high-capacity ammunition clips, though she says she's still working through details. "I'm against anything over 30, for sure," the south suburban Democrat says, though she pointed out that some friends of hers have handguns that hold 17 bullets.
Halvorson opposes banning assault weapons, saying her priority is not banning more weapons, but strengthening laws to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. She points to Chicago's long-time ban and the city's high murder rate as evidence such policies are misguided.
Halvorson denies her campaign website ducks the issue of guns, claiming her list of issue positions didn't touch on that hot-button subject because her ideas are still in formation. Late today, she did post an "open letter" to voters on the site, urging an "honest conversation" about guns in Washington.
Halvorson claims her views have evolved since she was in Congress: "I was friends with Gabby Giffords," she said, referring to the former Congresswoman shot during a constituent meet-and-greet two years ago.
Halvorson concedes that some of that evolution has roots in geography. She represented the relatively rural 11th Congressional District back in 2008, but is now running to be the Congresswoman from the 2nd CD— a much more urban and liberal area, a district represented heretofore by disgraced Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
While she praises President Obama for getting a national conversation started on guns, Halvorson claims all the discussion of her NRA rating is simply a way to distract from the issue of job creation, her top priority.
Still, most of the 17 Democrats running in the special election in the 2nd CD sound pretty similar on the subject of job creation— they're for it, and for an active Federal role in stimulating hiring.
Gun regulation, though, is an area where Halvorson has not always sounded like a Chicago-area Democrat, and the deep-pocketed Michael Bloomberg seems intent on letting no voter forget it.