“Gun control is Bloomberg’s longstanding cause, and part of the reason he can get involved in so many races is he’s got so much money. It’s his privilege to do it,” says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “And there is one big difference between Halvorson and [challenger Robin] Kelly, and it is guns.”
One ad sponsored by Bloomberg's super PAC, Independence USA, says of Ms. Halvorson: “When it comes to preventing gun violence, she gets an ‘F.’ ”
Halvorson accuses Bloomberg of trying to “purchase” the election. “We cannot allow Bloomberg to buy this district from New York,” she told reporters Monday.
She says she has not received an endorsement from the NRA. One of her top opponents in the Democratic primary will be Ms. Kelly, a former Illinois state representative who is running on a pledge to reduce gun violence by supporting assault-weapon and conceal-carry-permit bans and reducing the loophole for weaponry sold at gun shows. The winner of the Democratic primary on Feb. 26 is seen as being the favorite in the April 9 general election.
Citing an anonymous source in Capital Fax, a local media outlet covering Illinois politics, Halvorson says Kelly told supporters her strategy was to allow Bloomberg to launch attack ads against Halvorson. Kelly rejected the charges.
“It's ridiculous. I don't know [Bloomberg]. He doesn't know me. I have not been in touch with him. You can't even legally be in touch with them. So it's untrue, that's all I can tell you,” Kelly said.
Bloomberg’s involvement could be decisive, says Professor Sabato. The $2.1 million Independence USA ad buy dwarfs the $50,000 Halvorson has spent on her race to date, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.