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Guns, Outside Money Factor into Illinois’ Special Primary

Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty to fraud last week. The special primary to fill his congressional seat is scheduled for Feb. 26th. Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call, taken June 2012.

Illinois’ 2nd congressional district has seen a lot of action over the last few weeks. Jesse Jackson Jr., who served as the Chicago district’s Democratic congressman since 1995, pleaded guilty to fraud last Wednesday after resigning from Congress last November.

On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls to choose his likely replacement. The district is heavily Democratic, so Tuesday’s primary is just the precursor to April’s general election.

Three frontrunners have emerged from a packed candidate field: Democrats Robin Kelly, a former state representative; Debbie Halvorson, a former Congresswoman for Illinois’ 11th district; and Anthony Beale, an alderman.

Despite expectations of low voter turnout, the race has garnered national attention — most notably because of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s involvement in the contest. His political action committee, Independence USA, has invested upwards of $2 million to oppose candidates with favorable ratings from the NRA.

We spoke with Paris Schutz, a political correspondent for PBS’ WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, about the primary’s frontrunners, the campaigns’ focus on gun violence and the influence of outside money on the race.

Here is that conversation:

For more political coverage, visit NewsHour’s politics page.

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