Former state Rep. Robin Kelly easily defeated 15 other Democrats on Tuesday to win the special primary in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District, a victory for advocates of stricter laws governing gun ownership.
Chicago media outlets reported shortly after 8 p.m. Central time that former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who ran a distant second, had called Kelly to concede. With 60 percent of precincts reporting, Kelly led Halvorson, 56 percent to 20 percent, according to the Associated Press. Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale ran third, with 11 percent, while the other candidates each earned 5 percent or less.
The gun issue had become a flashpoint in the race, with Kelly highlighting the past pro-gun positions and "A" ratings from the National Rifle Association of Halvorson and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who withdrew from the race but was still on Tuesday's ballot. Kelly's support for new gun laws attracted the backing of independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who injected more than $2 million in the race in negative ads against Halvorson and air cover for Kelly.
"This is an important victory for common sense leadership on gun violence, a problem that plagues the whole nation," Bloomberg said in a statement released moments after Kelly was declared the winner.
Kelly also grabbed the endorsements of much of the Chicagoland congressional delegation, prominent local Democratic leaders, as well as the Chicago Tribune and the liberal blog Daily Kos, which helped raise money for her campaign.
The 2nd Congressional District -- comprised of some neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side, along with suburban areas south of the Windy City -- is a heavily Democratic district and the winner of the Democratic primary is likely to win in the general election. When the Democratic race was called, the Republican nominee remained uncertain. With the same 60 percent of precincts reporting, businessman Paul McKinley led Dr. Eric Wallace by a margin of only 14 votes.
The special election will be on April 9th.