In total there were 16 Democrats on the ballot vying for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s seat, including former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson and Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale. A major theme of the election was gun control, spurred by rising gun violence in the Chicago south side (part of the second district), the recent Newtown shootings and Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC, Independence USA. The super PAC spent over $2 million dollars in the race, supporting Kelly and attacking early frontrunner Debbie Halvorson for her previous “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. Halvorson’s loss, after being considered the early favorite in the race, could be a warning signal to legislators that are currently debating gun control measures and seeking re-election.
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned last November after being on medical leave for a mental illness and ethics investigation. More recently, he pled guilty to illegally using campaign funds. He served in Congress for 17 years.