* From a press release…
Robin Kelly, candidate for Illinois’ second Congressional district, today called on her opponents, former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson and State Senator Toi Hutchinson, to publically release their National Rifle Association questionnaires they filled out in previous elections.
“I am calling on my opponents to release their previous NRA questionnaires so that the people of the second Congressional district know what promises they have made to the NRA, and how they earned their ‘A’ ratings,” Robin Kelly said. “I earned a lifetime ‘F’ rating from the NRA and I could not be more proud of that fact. The voters deserve to know how Toi and Debbie both earned ‘A’s’ from the pro-gun lobby, which is notoriously known for only issuing ‘A’s’ to its very strongest supporters.”
“It is a tragedy that we have lost so many lives in Chicago and the Southland to gun violence, including losing seven lives this Saturday alone. We have to stop the violence and get the guns off the streets. I am the only candidate in the race with the record of fighting against gun violence. I am ready to work with President Obama to take on the NRA and protect our communities.”
Robin Kelly is the only candidate in the race to issue a five-point pledge to combat gun violence and has earned an ‘F’ rating with the NRA. Both Debbie Halvorson and Toi Hutchinson scored high ratings with the NRA in previous elections, but have yet to release the candidate questionnaires that earned them high ratings from the pro-gun group.
* The gun issue was highlighted in today’s Tribune…
Debbie Halvorson found herself alone among leading Democratic candidates Sunday when she indicated she would not support a ban on the semi-automatic firearm used in the Sandy Hook school shooting last month. […]
“We’ve buried far too many of our own children over the years — every day. When are we going to go after the criminals? When are we going to go after the people who buy guns for those who aren’t able to go get their backgrounds checked? We need to strengthen the laws we already have instead of keep talking about new ones,” Halvorson said at the forum at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St.
“We need to do more about the criminals. Cook County has an assault weapons ban. We have the highest amount of murders in the country. Let’s do more about enforcing the laws we have at the same time doing more about keeping our streets safe,” she said, adding she backs a universal background check and tougher criminal penalties on straw purchasers. […]
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, of Olympia Fields, who replaced Halvorson in the state Senate, also has had NRA backing in the past. Hutchinson, who did not attend the forum, has embraced Obama’s call for tougher gun measures and co-sponsored a bill in Springfield to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
* Politico also had a story…
Now, black leaders — concerned about Halvorson’s position atop polls — say they’re prepared to make gun control the central issue in the contest. The goal is to paint her as an NRA ally who’s too conservative for the seat and insensitive to Chicago’s rising tide of gun violence.
“The NRA gives Debbie Halvorson an ‘A’ rating,” said Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and gun control activist in Chicago who is supporting one of Halvorson’s opponents. “That tells me she should not be the representative from the 2nd District. If she gets an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, she gets an ‘F’ from me.”
Though she has described herself as a conservative Democrat, Halvorson voted with her party more than 90 percent of the time in Congress. She backed a cap-and-trade bill as well as President Barack Obama’s health care and economic stimulus measures. The onetime cosmetics saleswoman is pitching herself to voters as an experienced hand who can hit the ground running in Washington after Jackson’s long-running troubles that ended with his resignation in November.
But it’s her stance on guns that’s drawing the most attention.
* It’s not just Halvorson, though. The Kelly folks are zeroing in on Hutchinson as well. For instance…
After being appointed to Debbie Halvorson’s state senate seat in 2010 Hutchinson received an A- rating from the NRA Political Victory fund, the highest rating for a candidate without a record of gun votes at the time. Until her current run, she has listed the NRA endorsement on her website. The NRA gave her a 92% rating for the 2012 cycle.
In her 2010 campaign, Hutchinson aggressively struck back against accusations from her Republican opponent that she was not pro-gun enough. In fact, Hutchinson released a statement to the press saying:
• “Law-abiding citizens don’t need any more infringements on their constitutional right to protect their families and their property.”
• “I know that my stance on gun rights isn’t the consensus in my party, but above all else, I represent the 40th district; a diverse district that is representative of the State of Illinois,” said Hutchinson. “I’m clear about our right to keep and bear arms, and I’ve been recognized for that.”