Aggressive TV ads and racial politics take center stage in the race to replace Jesse Jackson Junior in the 2nd Congressional District.
"I don't have enough words to say thank you. All I can say is I'll give you my whole heart and soul," State Sen. Toi Hutchison said Wednesday as a group of African-American ministers prayed that the other black candidates- Robin Kelly, Alderman Anthony Beale and State Senator Napoleon Harris would remove themselves from the ballot. They believe by having one black candidate, it would be easier for an African-American to win on February 26.
"We need to make sure that everybody understands a house divided against itself cannot stand," Rev. Walter Turner, Hutchison supporter, said.
"There are certain people who are running who I don't think even they think they can win," Apostle Carl White, Hutchison supporter, said.
Hours later, Senator Harris--a gay marriage opponent-- dropped his candidacy and announced his support for Kelly.
"I have decided to lead by example and do what's best for the citizens of the second Congressional District," Harris said.
Political science professor Robert Starks fears African Americans might lose the second district seat.
"I think it would be years and years and years before you could get that seat back for an African-American," Starks said.
Frontrunner Debbie Halvorson, the only white democratic primary candidate who might benefit from a divided black vote, said she was disappointed that racial politics were part of the campaign.
"I'm very frustrated by that. It just bothers me more and more every day," Halvorson said.
Meanwhile, a TV ad sponsored by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's political action committee criticizes Halvorson's "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. While she still opposes an assault weapons ban, Halvorson says her position on gun control is "evolving" from what it used to be.
"And I look forward to getting back to Congress and being probably the only one in this race who can sit down and talk to both sides," Halvorson said.