Surprise surprise: Robin Kelly, the gun hating former Illinois state representative who's friends with Obama and enjoyed over $2 million of Mike Bloomberg's money for her campaign, has won the special election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. It wasn't even close. According to the Associated Press who called the election not long after polls closed, Kelly pulled in an impressive 89 percent of the vote. Her opponent, Republican Paul McKinley, only managed 7 percent.
But really, it's not surprise. McKinley is actually an unemployed felon who served nearly 20 years in prison for armed robbery, burglary and aggravated battery. He was paroled in 1997 and was obviously considered a bit of long shot in this election. It didn't help that he managed to raise less than $20,000 for his campaign. Kelly raised close to $1 million, and that's not counting the $2.2 million that Independence USA, an anti-gun political action committee funded by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, spent buying ads to help Kelly win the Democratic primary against former congresswoman Deborah Halverson. Kelly ended up beating Halverson neatly, winning 52 percent of the vote to her opponents 24 percent.
Again, unsurprisingly, the election has been a contentious one thanks to all of the out-of-town money at play. Bloomberg evidently wanted to prop up Kelly as a model gun control advocate and send her to Washington where she could champion progressive legislation to that end. Kelly also won the support of former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. who's struggled with mental illness in recent years but, despite his recently pleading guilty to felony charges of misappropriating campaign funds, still holds powerful sway in the district he controlled for 17 years. All that aside, a lot of people had issues with Bloomberg's contribution to the election, especially Halverson who basically accused Bloomberg of "buying seats."
No one can know whether Kelly could've beaten her Democratic primary opponent without her supporters' deep pockets, but it's not time to call Bloomberg a kingmaker. It can't be that hard to beat a felon who spent nearly two decades in jail — we're talking about McKinley here — and old fashioned things like endorsements from powerful people in the community like Jackson really do help. It also can't hurt that she's pals with the president. Plus, Bloomberg's otherwise coming up short on his kingmaking endeavors.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.