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Kadner: N.Y. Mayor Bloomberg sets agenda for Illinois race

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. | AP photo

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. | AP photo

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Updated: March 20, 2013 6:31AM



If it weren’t for Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, I would not have guessed the single most important issue in the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois.

It’s guns.

Not jobs.

Not public education.

And certainly not a south suburban airport.

Bloomberg, a billionaire, has spent $1.4 million on TV commercials depicting Debbie Halvorson, a former congresswoman from the area, as a threat to every infant and grandmother who walks America’s streets.

As the commercials sponsored by Bloomberg’s political action committee state, Halvorson once was given an “A” rating by the National Rifle Association.

The commercials never mention that Halvorson was really a nonfactor on Capitol Hill during her two years in office because that would kind of destroy their impact.

But since no one else is spending big money on this race, the New York mayor has been able to set the agenda. Almost every news conference, every press release, every story about the 2nd District is about gun control.

The fact that no one is talking about real gun control, here or in Congress, hardly gets mentioned.

In fact, Illinois is under a court order to allow concealed-carry.

What Bloomberg doesn’t tell you in his TV commercials is that this state is the only one in the country that doesn’t allow ordinary people to carry guns for self-defense, yet has the highest murder count in the nation.

Oh, well, you never let the facts get in the way of a good TV commercial.

The country is still trying to come to grips with Sandy Hook, where schoolchildren were killed by a mentally ill man.

As a result, there is talk about limiting the size of magazines so a person who is crazy enough to kill little children could only shoot a maximum of 10 kids before reloading.

During the 30 seconds or less it takes to reload, the thought process apparently is that 6-year-olds will either dash out a door or a first-grade teacher (a former CIA operative in a previous life) will jump on the attacker and disarm him.

That’s silly, but this is what serious people are talking about.

Bloomberg’s political action committee, in addition to declaring Halvorson Public Enemy No. 1, has endorsed her opponent, Robin Kelly, for the congressional seat once held by Jesse Jackson Jr. because the NRA gave her an “F.”

As a result, Kelly believes voters are so excited they will send her money.

“I have a lifetime ‘F’ rating from the National Rifle Association and I couldn’t be more proud,” Kelly boasted in an email soliciting donations.

“In Congress I’ll work with President Obama to ban assault weapons, outlaw high-capacity ammunition clips and close loopholes that make it easy for criminals to get their hands on deadly weapons.”

But first Kelly wants “$25, $50, $100 or anything you can afford to elect a Congresswoman who will stand up to the NRA and work to get deadly weapons off our streets.”

If you want to elect a candidate who will create jobs or do anything else, you apparently should look elsewhere.

At least Kelly isn’t trumpeting her ability to get anything done in those areas.

Halvorson, however, once the leader in early polling, has decided to counter the attacks by demonstrating why she never deserved to be a congresswoman in the first place.

Halvorson held a news conference to imply that Bloomberg and Kelly secretly are in cahoots.

That would be a violation of federal election laws.

Billionaires can spend millions to destroy the reputation of any candidate they choose in this country, but they are not allowed to coordinate their efforts with the campaigns of any other candidate.

Halvorson should have said the Bloomberg attack ads demonstrate that rich folks aren’t overtaxed in this country or they wouldn’t have money to spend on congressional races where they don’t live.

She could have said Bloomberg’s money might have been better spent on a program to keep children in school, or creating jobs for their parents or hiring some police officers to fight crime.

But who thinks about that sort of thing in a congressional race these days?

Apparently no one.

Chicago Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), another candidate in the congressional race, is upset by the Bloomberg commercials because he’s the one who actually sponsored a tough gun control law in the city council.

As a result, violent crime in Chicago has ... well, let’s not go there.

And that’s the point, isn’t it?

Chicago once banned guns. Chicago has no gun shops. Yet the city has more homicides than any other city in the nation and no one even wants to spend time discussing it.

Ultimately, it will be up to the people of the 2nd District to determine what it is they want in a congressman or congresswoman.

Three months ago, they overwhelmingly re-elected Jackson to office, although he did not campaign, was being treated for a bipolar disorder, had been implicated in a scheme to buy a U.S. Senate seat and had secretly flown a girlfriend from Washington, D.C., to Chicago.

He has since been charged by the federal government with spending $750,000 in campaign money on elk heads, and hats once worn by Michael Jackson.

I think the odds of selecting someone worse are unlikely. Then again, this is Illinois.

And perhaps Jesse Jackson Jr. wasn’t such a bad choice because he was anti-gun and not much else seems to matter.

That’s what happens when political action committees are allowed to distort the political process.

Liberals used to understand that. But, hey, this is about banning guns, not stopping abortions.



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