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Bloomberg takes gun fight to Chicago ^ | February 16, 2013 | Maggie Haberman and Alex Isenstadt

Posted on 02/16/2013 4:53:40 AM PST by Tailgunner Joe

A Chicagoland special House election to replace disgraced former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has suddenly become Ground Zero of the national gun control debate, courtesy of anti-gun crusader Mike Bloomberg.

The billionaire New York City mayor’s super PAC is poised to dump at least $2 million into the race, sources told POLITICO — a staggering sum for a single House race that’s meant to thwart a National Rifle Association-aligned Democrat who was cruising along as the frontrunner until a barrage of Bloomberg-financed attack ads hit the airwaves.

The massive independent expenditure by Independence USA PAC dwarfs what any of the 17 Democratic candidates have raised themselves. It’s a none-too-subtle statement of Bloomberg’s intention to take on the NRA after the Newtown, Conn. school shooting — though it’s debatable how much of a test case it is since the NRA is staying out of the race.

The bulk of Bloomberg’s cash has financed an air war against Debbie Halvorson, a former one-term congresswoman and longtime ex-state legislator with an “A” rating from the NRA. The lone white candidate in the Democratic field, she’s hoping that her base of suburban and rural voters in the southern outskirts of the district — who by and large favor gun rights — will be enough to give her the small plurality it will take to win.

The Democratic primary is on Feb. 26. The general election is all but irrelevant given the district’s heavy Democratic makeup.

“I believe that substantial expenditure by the forces doing battle with gun violence will likely send a real … loud warning to a lot of members of Congress that it’s no longer safe to side with the NRA — that’s really what’s going on here,” said Robert Creamer, a partner at Democracy Partners who has followed the race.

Indeed, gun control advocates believe that defeating Halvorson would send a message nationally that the climate has changed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in December.

With the NRA steering clear, the air waves are awash in Bloomberg’s millions without any significant response. Still, Bloomberg’s ad onslaught comes as a number of Democrats have urged him to become a counterweight to the NRA when it comes to political spending, and as his aides have met with President Barack Obama’s advisers about coordinating on gun control efforts.

A Bloomberg adviser said he made the decision to spend the money “without blinking.”

“The fact that it’s a special election, the fact that it’s in the middle of a national debate over the president’s plan … [there is an] understanding that it’s both a bellwether and a harbinger.”

Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for the PAC, said the group is trying to seize “distinct window of opportunity” to make headway on gun control while the public is paying close attention.

“We must and we will continue to be aggressive in informing voters across the country about the necessity of electing leaders who will stand up to the NRA and help pass the president’s gun reform package,” she said.

An NRA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bloomberg, who until this week had only gone after Halvorson, is now backing Democratic state lawmaker Robin Kelly. A number of other members of the Illinois congressional delegation are also rallying around Kelly, who released internal data showing her inching ahead of Halvorson in the wake of the Bloomberg ads.

Bloomberg also backed a handful of candidates last year in general elections in House districts, largely over the gun issue. But that was before the schoolhouse massacre.

“That’s like pre-9/11 and post-9/11,” said Matt Bennett of the political group Third Way. “It’s a seminal … moment and you can’t really compare” it to his endeavors before.

It remains to be seen, Bennett added, whether this can work beyond the confines of New York, where gun ownership (at least in the southern part of the state) is not ubiquitous and where the message of new restrictions resonates.

“We don’t really know if this kind of thing can work,” Bennett said. “Nobody’s ever put any media money into it. It will be an enormous moment in the politics of this issue if it does, but you can’t really predict the outcome.”

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, who is neutral in the race and won an April 2009 special election for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s House seat, said the ads’ influence will likely be felt most in the South Side portion of the funkily-carved district, which has a heavy rural component that Halvorson is counting on to turn out for her.

Halvorson’s problem, he said, is that Chicago voters are looking for someone to take a stand against guns — and Halvorson, after initially standing firm in her opposition to new gun control measures, has equivocated lately.

She told National Review Online this week that her views are “evolving” and that “we have to do something.”

“Parents’ No. 1 fear in Chicago is getting shot,” Quigley said. “They’re not going to say, ‘Debbie is going to give the bill a good, long look.’ People want someone who will be definitive.”

Halvorson, the frontrunner until Bloomberg began his spending spree, has been unable to punch back. She has struggled with fundraising and has made clear she is hoping for her relatively high name ID to get her over the top.

“I think it backfired,” Halvorson told POLITICO about Bloomberg’s ad buys. “Voters are upset that Mayor Bloomberg is using his money to buy a congressional seat.”

“Wherever I go, whether its African Americans, whites, or Hispanics, they’re saying, ‘Hang in there.’”

She did concede that she has “lost a few votes” as a result of the offensive.

John Kupper of AKPD, the firm that handled Obama’s campaign ads, noted that the House race is occurring in the third-most expensive media market in the country, making it that much harder for Halvorson to fight back.

The district is about 55 percent black. But no one knows how many or which voters will turn out in a dead-of-winter special election. That dynamic makes the outcome of the race – despite the undeniable effect Bloomberg has had — unpredictable.

But Halvorson’s opponents have reason to be concerned: She has a floor of support, keeping her in the game no matter what. As little as 20-25 percent could win the election.

What’s more, while the mayor’s aides have discussed coordination with Obama aides Jim Messina and Patrick Gaspard, the president’s organizing arm is not involved on the ground in the race – making it strictly an air fight, and thus tougher to predict or discern meaning from the outcome.

Bennett argued that losing is “priced in” since, like the gay marriage statewide ballot initiatives, gun control advocates have faced a number of losses in the past and it’s the default setting.

However, given the NRA’s absence from this fight other than as a straw man, it’s unclear how much can be learned if Kelly wins.

“This will only tell you half the story, Bennett said, “if this ends up working.”

TOPICS: US: Illinois
KEYWORDS: banglist; bluezones; chicago; gangs; guncontrol; secondamendment; urban

1 posted on 02/16/2013 4:53:42 AM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

2 posted on 02/16/2013 5:08:41 AM PST by Travis McGee (
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To: Tailgunner Joe

I wonder when O’s IRS will tell Bloomberg he should pay more taxes or at least his fair share?

Answer: Never. Only enemies of Obama’s state get audited by the IRS. There’s an automatic exemption for athiests, gays, liberals, Demcrats, Muslims, Communists, Congress, and lobbyists.

3 posted on 02/16/2013 5:10:20 AM PST by jsanders2001
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To: Travis McGee

Bloomberg is running for the number two slot as the biggest threat to our nation in the big money category right behind George Soros.

4 posted on 02/16/2013 5:19:41 AM PST by Venturer
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To: Tailgunner Joe
The correct answer to the gun-grabbers rallying cry of 'we have to do something' is:

'NO, actually we don't.'

5 posted on 02/16/2013 6:01:54 AM PST by JPG (Stay strong.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

As much as I despise the leftist hate of the successful, people like Bloomberg, Soros, Warren Buffett, Irwin Jacobs, Jon Stryker, Haim Saban, and Fred Eychaner have become a public menace.

Were they to mind their own business, fine, but they insist on foisting their bizarre and twisted notions on the public, and their biggest collective hobby seems to be social experimentation.

6 posted on 02/16/2013 7:12:01 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy (Best WoT news at
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Refreshing to hear someone besides myself saying that!

7 posted on 02/16/2013 7:43:23 AM PST by Fireone (Impeach and imprison, NOW! Treason and murder are still crimes.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

It’s very clear the statist gun grabbers feel their time has come to make their move incremental inch by inch....

Confiscation is their goal...

The indoctrination is just starting....

Piece by piece they make their moves...grabbing power wherever they can get it by hook or crook...

This will wind up in the SCOTUS one day...they will be bought and paid for by the statist and CW ll will begin...

8 posted on 02/16/2013 8:11:54 AM PST by Popman
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To: Tailgunner Joe
“Parents’ No. 1 fear in Chicago is getting shot,” Quigley said.

Well, you COULD MOVE SOMEWHERE ELSE YOU DUMB F##K (Quigley, not you, Joe). Geez these people are morons. I can't believe there are people living in my country that are that stupid.

I don't go to places, nor do I live in a place, where I fear being shot. In fact, I avoid those places like the plague. I'm nobody special. Chicago parents can do that, too. There are no laws against moving to a safer area.

In fact, maybe that's the approach we take. Instead of banning guns, we ban people from living in high crime areas. That has at least as much chance of succeeding, and it makes more sense.

9 posted on 02/16/2013 8:25:32 AM PST by Hardastarboard (The Liberal ruling class hates me. The feeling is mutual.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Now that Nanny Bloomers has successfully eliminated crime in the Big Apple
he has the time to offer his professional assistance to the rest of the country.

10 posted on 02/16/2013 8:47:42 AM PST by Iron Munro (I miss America, don't you?)
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To: Venturer

Yeah, along with the others who are writing Obama’s teleprompter scripts.

11 posted on 02/16/2013 8:58:36 AM PST by Travis McGee (
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