Robin Kelly, the Democrat supported by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg-funded PAC ads won a Chicago-area primary tonight with 56 percent of votes with 60 percent of precincts responding. Today's primary decided the candidates in the special IL-2 district election to fill Jesse Jackson Jr.'s seat in Congress.
Bloomberg hailed the victory in a statement. "This is an important victory for common sense leadership on gun violence, a problem that plagues the whole nation. And it's the latest sign that voters across the country are demanding change from their representatives in Washington -- not business as usual," Bloomberg said.
"As Congress considers the President's gun package, voters in Illinois have sent a clear message: we need common sense gun legislation now. Now it's up to Washington to act."
Bloomberg's success shows that small-town candidates can get big support from national PACs. The Bloomberg-attacked former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson received 20 percent of the vote with 60 percent of precincts responding, according to the AP.
"Guns were far and away the dominant issue in the race and there's no doubt that Bloomberg has been a defining part of that," said Sean Tenner, a Chicago-based political consultant. "I guess the question now is, do Democrats around the country start fearing or being responsive to the Bloomberg PAC more so than the NRA?
"For the first time you saw a lot of money thrown into the race by someone other than the NRA," Tenner said. "That changes things."
A wintry weather mix dropped snow on Chicago and surrounding areas, which likely affected voter turnout in urban areas where many constituents don't have cars. In the afternoon, turnout was at 11 percent.
"The snow was pretty bad and I am positive it negatively impacted the turnout," said Sean Tenner of Chicago-area political consulting group Grainger Terry. "I predict the city turnout would be abysmally low."
Robin Kelly's campaign sent out about 300 people to knock on doors, remind them to vote, and offer them a ride if they couldn't make it through the snow. The campaign also set up a phone line for people needing rides.
Kelly's campaign said the success means a gun-control advocate could represent the Chicago area in Congress. The general election will be April 9.
"What it represents for Chicago and the area is finally we have an advocate who is willing to stand up and directly address the epidemic of gun violence," said Kelly campaign manager Jonathan Blair. "She will move this discussion forward as part of making this community better."