Bob Jackson might be thought to have reason to welcome the mayor of New York splurging millions to make guns the issue of a Chicago election.
After all, Jackson heads a group, Roseland Ceasefire, struggling to contain a surge in shootings in one of Chicago’s poorest and most violent neighbourhoods. More than 100 people have been shot dead in Roseland over the past year, many of them teenagers, as a wave of killings of young people has shaken the city.
Michael Bloomberg, one of the most high-profile supporters of stricter gun controls, has used his money to oppose one candidate and back another in a special primary election, taking place on Tuesday, to decide the likely replacement for Jesse Jackson Jr as member of Congress for Illinois’ second district, which covers Roseland. For New York’s billionaire mayor, the key issue has been the candidates’ position on a federal assault rifles ban. But his intervention, far from rallying campaigners like Jackson, has instead angered people on all sides of the guns debate.
“Who’s going to be the boss of this new member of Congress? Is it going to be Mr Bloomberg or the voters of the second district?” said Jackson. “And what’s Bloomberg’s agenda? It’s setting a precedent. He’s the mayor of New York, not Chicago. Had it not been for Bloomberg’s money, would this even be be a race?”
But above all, Jackson said Bloomberg had missed the point. New York’s mayor has thrown his weight behind one candidate, Robin Kelly, because she is a strong supporter of a ban on assault rifles and large ammunition clips – a cause close to Bloomberg’s heart which has been thrust to the political fore by the massacre of 20 young children in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.
“When’s the last time you heard of a shooing on the streets of Chicago with an assault rifle?” said Jackson. “It’s not an assault weapons issue here. It’s handguns and bullets. Banning assault rifles isn’t going to change a thing on the streets of Chicago. It’s a distraction. The mayor of New York has got it wrong.”
Even the Joyce Shills aren’t happy about Bloomberg’s despotic interventions!