CHICAGO — After a fierce primary campaign dominated by gun control, ethics and economic woes, voters were choosing the likely replacement for Jesse Jackson Jr. on Tuesday, three months after his legal troubles and battle with depression forced the son of the civil rights leader to resign from Congress.
The Democratic front-runners — former state Rep. Robin Kelly, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson and Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale — made Election Day stops through the blistery winter weather at train stations and restaurants in the district, which spans Chicago’s South Side, south suburbs and some rural areas.
They were among 14 Democrats and four Republicans in the special primary, but the Democratic winner was expected to sail through the April 9 general election because the area is heavily Democratic.
Halvorson, who lost a primary challenge to Jackson last year, has been targeted for her position on gun control, which became a key issue in the district, parts of which have been deeply affected by Chicago’s gun violence.
Independence USA, the super PAC of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, poured more than $2 million into the race for anti-gun ads in support of Kelly and against Halvorson, a former state lawmaker and one-term congresswoman. Kelly supports an assault-weapons ban, but Halvorson does not.
After casting her ballot, Halvorson warned that if the ads are successful Bloomberg will try to “buy seats” across the country.
“We can’t let that happen,” she said.
Beale also took issue with the ads, saying people are “extremely upset” that someone from New York is trying to tell people in Illinois how to vote and predicting that there will be a “backlash.”