CHICAGO
02/25/2013 03:07 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2013

Illinois 2nd District: Debbie Halvorson Leads Latest Poll Ahead Of Special Election Primary

As the crowded field of candidates for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s seat in Congress headed out for one last day of campaigning ahead of Tuesday's primary in Illinois' 2nd district special election, one of the contenders received some good news -- though other polls paint a different picture of the race.

According to the Daily Journal, former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson lead the way over former state Rep. Robin Kelly in a poll of 500 likely voters in the district by a margin of 21 percent to 17 percent.

The poll was conducted between Feb. 17 and 19 by Victory Research for WCKG AM Radio and, according to pollster Rod McCulloch, indicates that $2 million worth of negative ads bankrolled by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC targeting Halvorson's positions on gun control and previous National Rifle Association "A" rating could be backfiring.

In polling released earlier this month in the race -- prior to the Bloomberg ads going live -- Kelly was leading Halvorson by a margin of 26 percent to 22 percent, per her campaign's internal polling, The Hill previously reported.

At that time, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson was another Democratic frontrunner in the race, but she abruptly suspended her campaign to succeed disgraced Jackson Jr. in Congress and threw her support behind Kelly last weekend. Halvorson called Hutchinson's exit "bizarre" and suggested that Hutchinson had been forced out of the contest in order to consolidate support for Kelly.

In yet another poll by We Ask America, reported Saturday by Fox Chicago, Kelly had an overwhelming lead over Halvorson -- 37 percent to 19 percent -- so recent polling in the race have varied significantly.

Hutchinson's exit from the race has essentially narrowed the field down to three contenders, all Democrats: Kelly, Halvorson and Chicago alderman Anthony Beale. While one of four Republican challengers will move onto the April 9 general election in the race, Illinois' 2nd congressional district is heavily Democratic, all but assuring whomever wins the Democratic primary of a trip to Washington.

All three frontrunners expressed confidence to the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press on Sunday about their chances in the primary.

Jackson Jr. resigned last fall from Congress ahead of his guilty plea, earlier this month, to charges that he and his wife, former Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson, colluded to illegally spend $750,000 of campaign contributions on personal items. Prior to his resignation, Jackson had been on medical leave while he received treatment for bipolar disorder at Mayo Clinic.

The race in Jackson's former congressional district, which includes the city's far South Side as well as parts of the city's south suburbs in Cook, Will and Kankakee counties, was considered to be the first major test of how the issue of gun control will impact elections following last December's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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