Billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who, when not obsessing over salt content, wrings his hands about money in politics, has directed his personal SuperPAC to spend $1.3 million, so far, against Debbie Halvorson, former Congresswoman and candidate for the special election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress. Halvorson’s crime? She opposes the proposed assault weapons ban.
The special election, whose primary is scheduled for February 26th, is the result of Jesse Jackson Jr.’s resignation from Congress in the face of criminal charges. Halvorson, who served one-term in Congress, is considered the frontrunner in the multi-candidate field to win the Democrat nomination. The district covers parts of the South Side of Chicago, just miles from Obama’s home, into the inner Cook County suburbs.
The attacks on Halvorson began in earnest when she came out in opposition to Obama’s proposed assault weapons ban. An opponent of most gun control measures, she was endorsed by the NRA in 2010. Chicago currently has among the strictest gun control laws in the country, yet the city has been riddled with an epidemic of street crime. No current measures under consideration in Congress would be as strict as Chicago’s existing laws.
“If you can tell me that banning another gun will go after the criminals, I’d be all for it.” Halvorson told The Hill. “I’d be for anything that stopped the killing and gets guns out of the hands of criminals, but it won’t work. (Chicago’s) Cook County has had an assault weapons ban since 1993 and they have the highest murder rate in the country.”
Obama has made gun control a central thesis of his second term. To have a pro-gun Democrat win a primary on his home turf in opposition to his initiative would be a serious blow to the gun control movement. As a result, the left is lining up quickly against Halvoroson.
Chicago Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who both endorsed and donated to Halvorson in 2008 and 2010 came out this week in strong opposition to her campaign. David Axelrod has tweeted against Halvorson and Ben LaBolt, spokesman for Obama’s campaign in both 2008 and 2012, has made strong public statements against her.
The primary on February 26th will be a test of the Obama machine. Gun control is not generally popular with the public. Obama is mobilizing his entire machine to stop Halvorson. If she wins, in his own back-yard, it will be confirmation that the gun issue is a loser for Democrats. No wonder Bloomberg is freaking out.