"I'm part of the public. I happen to have some money," Bloomberg said at a New York news conference. "And that's what I'm going to do with my money is try to get us some sensible gun laws."
Bloomberg's Independence USA Super Political Action Committee has endorsed the Matteson former state representative over Debbie Halvorson, a one-term member of Congress from Crete, citing the latter's A rating from the National Rifle Association. Kelly has made gun control the defining issue of her campaign. According to records filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Super PAC has spent $700,000 in support of Kelly and $1.4 million in TV attacks ads and a direct-mail campaign against Halvorson.
Bloomberg, whose estimated worth is $25 billion, added that he was taking such an interest in the 2nd Congressional District special election because "this is the only race at the moment." Halvorson has charged that Bloomberg's involvement has "compromised" the political process.
Jackson resigned the seat shortly after winning re-election in November and is now facing federal charges of conspiracy and misuse of campaign funds. The Democratic and Republican primaries are Feb. 26, with the general election set for April 9.
While applauding Bloomberg's stance on guns, Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), another candidate in the race, questioned his self-appointed role as kingmaker Tuesday. Beale issued a statement saying he "understands Mayor Bloomberg's passion for gun control. What the campaign doesn't understand is selecting one candidate out of a field of 17. Especially, when one of the candidates is an elected official in the Chicago City Council currently and the other candidate hasn't been in office since 2006."
Beale, who is now one of 15 candidates in the Democratic primary after two dropped out, said he had a stronger, more consistent record on gun control than anyone else in the race — and even more so than President Barack Obama.
"All of my opponents are saying, 'I will stand with the president,' but President Obama needs to stand with us in Chicago," Beale said. "We never stopped fighting this fight."
Asked if he was happy with the effect his Super PAC was having on the race, Bloomberg said, "I'll let you know a week from today."