Robin Kelly wins Illinois primary in bid to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.

Robin Kelly claims victory in the Democratic primary election for the Illinois second district. PHOTO/Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The newly elected Democratic nominee to replace disgraced former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. vowed to become a leader in the fight for federal gun control and directly challenged the National Rifle Association in her victory speech.

Robin Kelly, a former state representative, emerged early as a voice for gun control after Jackson resigned in November. Then she gained huge momentum when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC poured US$2 million into anti-gun television ads that blasted one of her Democratic opponents, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, for receiving a previous high rating from the NRA.

Kelly supports an assault weapons ban, while Halvorson does not.

“We were on the right side of the issue, and our message resonated,” Kelly said shortly after her win.

In her victory speech, she promised to fight “until gun violence is no longer a nightly feature on the evening news” and directly addressed the NRA, saying “their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end.”

Bloomberg called Kelly’s win an important victory for “common-sense leadership” on gun violence, saying in a statement that voters nationwide are demanding change.

But other Democratic front-runners accused Bloomberg of buying a race and interfering in the heavily urban district that also includes some Chicago suburbs and rural areas.