The South Side of Chicago has long been a hotbed of political intrigue and corruption, but soon overwhelmingly Democratic residents of the South Side and the southern suburbs will be able to bask in the warm, fuzzy glow of knowing that their representative to Congress was purchased by a New York former Republican, now Independent.
Earlier this week, Robin Kelly, a former treasurer and state legislator, won the Democratic primary for the seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. (who resigned in disgrace after being caught with his hand in the cookie jar). Kelly won the right to represent her party in the March special election by a substantial margin over the various other contenders, most notably former Rep. Debbie Halverson, her closest competitor. Halverson pulled down only 25 percent of the votes to Kelly’s 52 percent. Kelly and Halverson both gave credit for Kelly’s overwhelming victory to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg whose super-PAC spent some $2.2 million promoting Kelly and bashing Halverson.
While $2.2 million spent in a campaign doesn’t seem like a lot these days, it must be considered that this is a primary race where candidates typically don’t even break the $100,000 mark. As a matter of fact, it is unusual for a candidate to spend $2 million in the General Election for an Illinois congressional race, much less over $2 million in the primary. But Kelly, like Bloomberg, is a virulent opponent to gun rights, while Halverson received an A rating from the National Rifle Association – and Bloomberg is trying to prove that being anti-rights is an advantage in elections.
Bloomberg purchased huge blocks of local area TV time, running an anti-Halverson ad during almost every commercial break on almost every local channel during peak viewing periods. The ads painted the vote as a contest between reducing criminal violence and supporting the evil NRA, and questioned Halverson’s trustworthiness in light of her good grade from the group. The constant pounding from Bloomberg’s PAC made gun control the central issue of the race and kept Halverson on the defensive, constantly having to explain her opposition to a ban on semi-auto firearms and standard-capacity magazines. She received no help at all from the NRA and only minor, last-minute assistance from the Illinois State Rifle Association.
With Chicago being the violent-crime capital of the nation, it is natural that reducing violent crime would be a key issue in any election. Of course, the flaw in the arguments is the idea that gun control and crime reduction are the same thing. Chicago, with the strictest gun laws in the nation along with its raging crime problems, is vivid proof of the fallacy of that idea.
Bloomberg’s own henchman, Mark Glaze, executive director of Bloomberg’s group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, unintentionally highlighted the flaw in his boss’ agenda when asked if Bloomberg’s anti-gun push would fly in states like West Virginia. Glaze said, “West Virginia and Illinois will always be different,” because states like West Virginia have “more hunting, more guns, and less crime.”
Could you repeat that last part again, Mr. Glaze? More guns and less crime? How about we pursue that model rather than the Chicago scheme of more restrictions, more crime, more restrictions, and more crime? Is it that people in Illinois are less capable of handling the responsibility of gun ownership, or is there something in the water that keeps the criminals in West Virginia from being as violent as their counterparts in Illinois? It couldn’t be that piling failed government-control policies on top of failed government-control policies has resulted in a loss of individual accountability and personal responsibility, could it? It couldn’t be that criminals in West Virginia have to be more careful who they victimize because they never know who might be able and willing to shoot their sorry butts, could it? Nah … That’s just crazy talk, isn’t it, Mr. Glaze?
It’s unlikely that Chicago voters will be too concerned about their new representative being in the pocket of a New York former Republican. After all, before Bloomberg was a Republican he was a Democrat and only switched to the Republican Party because he felt he had a better shot as a Republican following the popular Republican, Rudy Giuliani, and avoiding the crowded Democrat field in the primary. The only time Bloomberg’s status as a Republican ever came into play was when his participation in a Democrat effort officially made the project “bipartisan.” In all other respects, Bloomberg has always been a common variety Democrat; a true RINO – Republican in name only. Since his switch to Independent, the media still suggest that Bloomberg’s involvement in a project makes it “bipartisan.” The Democrat turned Republican turned Independent is really just a political opportunist.
Bloomberg’s excessive spending in this Illinois primary is aimed at convincing members of Congress that they have nothing to fear from the “mighty NRA.” Even so, politicians would be ill advised to take Bloomberg’s message to heart. While gun control may win votes in some jurisdictions, like the South Side of Chicago, it is a proven loser in most districts. There is rarely any political advantage to be gained in supporting even the most moderate-seeming piece of gun-control legislation because GunVoters routinely vote based on their rights, and they have long memories. Anti-gunners rarely shift their vote based on that one issue. Republicans in particular would make a huge mistake if they voted for any new gun control legislation because it would both give Democrats cover and be seen as a betrayal. GunVoters don’t take betrayal well. Besides, even Bloomberg can’t afford to dump millions of dollars into every congressional race in the country. Better for politicians to stick with proven friends than to kiss up to proven enemies – no matter how rich they are.