Guns, race, money hot topics in 2nd District primary

February 18, 2013 9:38:36 PM PST
The primary election in the 2nd Congressional District is one week from Tuesday, and Monday night, the race to replace former congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. got even more heated.

Guns, race and money -- those are just a few of the topics front and center in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District.

In the final days of the primary campaign, reports of ripped up signs emerged.

"Someone actually had the audacity to climb up 15 feet to rip our sign down. That's crazy!" said candidate Ernest Fenton.

The home stretch of the primary also featured a fired-up debate Monday night.

"When they say it's African-American: it's 52 percent African-American, and I say I'm no stranger to diversity," said candidate Debbie Halvorson.

And pumped-up ads combined with everything else to make Monday just another day in the race for the 2nd Congressional District.

At a WTTW debate Monday night, one candidate against conceal carry admitted he owns several guns. Asked what kind of guns he has, Alderman Anthony Beale said "a shotgun and a nine millimeter." After a statement was made that "a nine millimeter is not a hunting gun," Beale responded: "No, it's not -- it's for my own protection."

Isn't that hypocritical, I asked?

"No, I don't think so at all -- because as aldermen, we're legally allowed to carry, but i don't carry," said Beale.

As the man they hope to replace, Jesse Jackson, Jr., prepares to plead guilty to using nearly three-quarters-of-a-million dollars in campaign money for personal expenses, several of the candidates suggest Jackson deserves some slack.

"Other people have had mental health illnesses and they've gotten breaks," said candidate Robin Kelly.

"If you research bipolar disorder, part of the bipolar disorder disease is compulsive behavior, and that also includes spending," said Beale.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's political action committee is spending more than $2 million in the race supporting Kelly for her gun control stance and blasting Debbie Halvorson.

"This is about Michael Bloomberg's $2.3 million coming and trying to buy a race in Illinois -- that is ridiculous," said Halvorson.

Halvorson says she supports registering the sale and transfer of guns - but not a new assault weapons ban.

Why does New York's mayor care enough to spend $2 million of his own money here? His spokesman said Monday night that Bloomberg has spent money in nearly a half dozen races across the country when he feels the issues at stake are important.