Voters Choose Kelly in Democratic Primary to Replace Jackson

It appeared late Tuesday that Kelly will face Republican Paul McKinley in April

In the end, the candidate with the most money won the primary race to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting as of 9:50 p.m., Robin Kelly had garnered roughly 58 percent of the vote. That was enough to earn her the chance to move forward in the special election for Illinois' 2nd District Congressional seat.

It appeared late Tuesday that Kelly will face Republican Paul McKinley in April, but typically the Democratic Primary is the election that counts.

Buoyed by support and an estimated $2.1 million in cash from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Kelly ran as an anti-gun candidate.

"Today you did more than cast a vote," she told supporters at a Holiday Inn in Matteson. "You did more than choose a Democratic candidate for Congress. ... You sent a message that was heard around our state and across the nation; a message that tells the NRA that their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end."

The Bloomberg SuperPAC ads that touted Kelly's achievements also took direct aim at Debbie Halvorson, a former one-term congressman who received an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association during her time at the Capitol.

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.

Kelly, a failed candidate for State Treasurer in 2010, entered a crowded field in which she was not the favorite. She had been working as the chief of staff for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle before throwing her hat in the ring.

Preckwinkle endorsed a rival -- Toi Hutchinson -- rather than her former chief. Hutchinson eventually withdrew.

Kelly, who originally hails from the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, will need to make it through the April 9 special election before she can head to Washington, D.C.

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