By Rick Pearson and Bill Ruthhart
1:47 PM CST, February 15, 2013
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super political action committee on Friday endorsed former state Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson in the special Democratic primary that is likely to decide the successor to former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Independence USA already has spent almost $1.4 million on the contest, primarily to attack another candidate, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete, for her previous National Rifle Association support.
The super PAC said it will spend even more money on broadcast and cable TV to air its newest ad. The spot endorses Kelly, but also criticizes Halvorson and, for the first time, another top contender, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields. Hutchinson also has had NRA support in past campaigns.
In the ad, an announcer says fighting gun violence is “the big issue” in the race and that Halvorson and Hutchinson “can’t be trusted.” The announcer notes Kelly backs hometown President Barack Obama’s push for a ban on military-style assault weapons and universal background checks and calls her “a champion in the fight against gun violence.”
The new ad blitz could provide a significant boost for Kelly in the 16-candidate Democratic field for the Feb. 26 special primary in the South Side and south suburban 2nd Congressional District. The Bloomberg super PAC has far and away raised and spent more money than any individual candidate and has run the only broadcast advertising in the race in the expensive Chicago television market.
Indeed, campaign disclosure reports filed by the leading candidates show Kelly has raised more than $303,725 since the start of the short campaign through Feb. 6. Campaign aides to Kelly, who formerly was chief administrative officer for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, said she has raised $417,727 for the campaign cycle through Wednesday.
Among Kelly’s major donors is John Rogers, the head of Ariel Capital Management, who contributed the maximum $2,600 allowed for the primary and chipped in another $2,400 for the April 9 general election. Kelly also has received $6,854 in donations through Act Blue, a conduit for small Democratic fundraising amounts.
As of Feb. 6, Kelly trailed Hutchinson in cash available to spend. Kelly reported $88,820 available while Hutchinson had more than double at $199,901. Hutchinson’s campaign has engaged in a significant direct-mail campaign since that time. For the entire campaign, through Feb. 6, Hutchinson reported raising $281,106. Hutchinson has been endorsed by Preckwinkle, who gave her $1,000.
Hutchinson, a state lawmaker since 2009, has received contributions from several major Springfield lobbyists including Victor Reyes, the top lobbyist for former Mayor Richard Daley, and the McGuire Woods law firm, which donated catering for two fundraising events for her in Springfield and in northwest Indiana.
Hutchinson also received a small $250 donation from Malcolm Weems, director of the state Department of Central Management Services under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. She also got twin $5,000 donations from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the transit workers’ union.
Halvorson, who unsuccessfully ran against Jackson in last year’s March Democratic primary, reported raising $97,802 for the contest and had $48,241 in cash available as of Feb. 6. Her campaign has countered that her name recognition from taking on Jackson does not require the large amounts of money other candidates need to spend for name ID.
Another candidate in the race, Chicago Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, reported raising $150,000 for the overall campaign but had only $33,758 available to spend as of the end of the Feb. 6 reporting period.
Among Beale’s donors since the first of the year was Federico and Jackie d’Escoto of Aurora, who gave a combined $4,500. Earlier this week, Miguel d’Escoto, who was senior vice president of operations for the United Neighborhood Organization, resigned after the Sun-Times disclosed that the charter school operator paid state grant money to companies owned by two of his brothers, including Federico d’Escoto.
“No, we’re not going to return the money, because that was a state issue and had nothing to do with Anthony Beale or the City of Chicago,” said Beale spokeswoman Delmarie Cobb. “The company is a long-established company that has been in the community for 39 years.”
In the Republican field of four candidates, only Eric Wallace reported raising any cash, according to federal reports. The ordained minister and owner of a Flossmoor multimedia company reported raising $4,650 from Jan. 1 through Feb. 6 and had $1,720 in cash on hand.
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