Robin Kelly wins special election for Illinois' 2nd district - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Robin Kelly wins special election for Illinois' 2nd district

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Robin Kelly. Robin Kelly.
Paul McKinley. Paul McKinley.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

After winning the special election in Illinois' 2nd congressional district, former state representative Robin Kelly will fill Jesse Jackson Jr.'s vacant seat in Congress.

The democrat was favored to win the race against republican Paul McKinley, an ex-convict and community activist. The strongly Democratic Chicago-area district includes suburbs and rural areas.

Kelly voted in Matteson early Tuesday morning, and has vowed to get straight to work in Washington.

SEE: Voters decide Jackson Jr. replacement, Ill. Rep. Kelly favored to win

Kelly easily won the special primary in February from a crowded field of candidates including former Congressman Debbie Halvorson. The main issue in that race quickly became gun control and Kelly's campaign received a $2 million boost in ads including ones on television targeting Halvorson.

She was endorsed by President Obama, and received a boost from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC, which supports stricter gun control.

While Kelly is for an assault weapons ban and is deeply concerned about stopping "straw purchases," she is not completely against responsible people owning guns.

"People think I'm against guns. I grew up in a family of cops and my two nephews are Chicago police officers and my grandfather was a hunter," Kelly told FOX 32 News. "I just want people who own guns to be responsible and accountable and those that should not have gun for whatever reason should not have them."

Jesse Jackson Jr. represented the 2nd district for 17 years, but resigned from his post in November after taking a medical leave of absence that lasted nearly the entire year of 2012.

Jackson was also under federal investigation at the time of his resignation. He pleaded guilty to federal charges for misspending over $750,000 in campaign funds on personal purchases. He will be sentenced in June, and faces up to four years in prison.

Jackson held a spot in the powerful House Appropriations Committee in Washington, and brought $1 billion to the 2nd congressional district in his time as its congressman. He also had strong relationships with mayors and activists throughout the district.

The losing Republican nominee, Paul McKinley, said his goal now is to destroy the local "Democratic Machine." He said it's destroyed African-American neighborhoods, leaving too many without hope.

"It's a very low turnout, because the people really feel that there's no hope," McKinley told FOX 32 News. "The people, as I was passing out the literature and talking to people, they really felt like there was no more hope in democracy. They felt overran by the machine and they felt like it's, ‘What the use?'"

Voter turnout was low in several parts of the district. Tuesday's special election coincided with municipal elections -- not including Chicago, which elected its mayor and City Council in 2011. Early estimates for city precincts were roughly 8 percent with an anticipated 12 percent by the end of the day. Election officials said turnout was higher than the 2009 special election to replace Rahm Emanuel, who left Congress to be President Obama's chief of staff. In that year, roughly 10 percent of city voters went to the polls.
 
Turnout was higher in the suburbs, particularly areas with contested municipal elections.

The district spans across parts of Chicago's South Side, its south suburbs and some rural areas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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