If there was every any question about the role guns played in the special election primary to replace disgraced former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., Rep. Robin Kelly answered it Tuesday in the her victory speech.
"You sent a message that was heard around our state and across the nation," Kelly told supporters, "a message that tells the NRA that their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end."
Kelly easily won the Democratic primary in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District, beating top opponents Debbie Halvorson and Ald. Anthony Beale with 51.9 percent of the vote.
It's no secret Kelly was backed by millions of dollars in campaign ads from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's SuperPAC that also attacked Halvorson's A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. Though Kelly denied knowing about the ads ahead of time, there was no denying their effect, at the very least, to get her on TV and boost her presence in the race.
In her Tuesday night speech, Kelly went on to say the NRA's days of "scaring Congress into submission on gun control are coming to a close." She noted residents' "stories of loss" and said she would stand with President Barack Obama to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
"You cried with me, you fought for us, and you told the NRA and their allies in Congress and around the country that we, the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandchildren, friends and neighbors, the families of the fallen, the neighbors living in fear, that we are united in our mission to end the killing in our streets," she said.
Kelly said she will do what it takes to end the epidemic of gun violence, a topic still making national headlines out of Chicago, and told Ward Room that gun-control will be a theme she takes with her to Congress. "I will join the fight," she said.
Bloomberg, for his part, called Kelly's win a response from Illinois voters that "we need common sense gun legislation now."
In conceding, Halvorson said it was a time for Democrats to rally around Kelly.
"We're all Democrats," she told supporters. "We are all with Robin."
In his remarks, Chicago Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) assailed Bloomberg and the SuperPAC money that he said made all the difference in the race.
"We cannot let the Democratic party cannibalize Democrats for ulterior motives that don't serve the people's best interest. If this is the future of the Democratic Party, then we are all in big trouble," he told his supporters.