A white ex-congresswoman with an â€œAâ€ rating from the National Rifle Association is the front-runner to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in a majority-black Chicagoland district with inner-city neighborhoods wracked by gun violence.
At first glance, Debbie Halvorson should have no business winning the Feb. 26 special election. The former Democratic congresswoman was crushed by Jackson in a primary last year. Sheâ€™s a white Democrat seeking to represent a district in which 54 percent of voters are African-American.
And sheâ€™s an unapologetic Second Amendment backer â€” with endorsements from the NRA in two of her previous congressional campaigns â€” despite an outpouring of concern among voters and her campaign rivals about gun violence.
Yet thereâ€™s reason to think Halvorson could eke out a win. She is a known entity in much of the district thanks to her time in Congress and earlier rise to state Senate majority leader â€” the first woman to hold the post. Sixteen other candidates are vying for the Democratic nod, and all of her formidable competitors are African-American. That creates a possibility that the black vote will splinter, opening a path for Halvorson.
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