CHICAGO (CBS) — Congresswoman Robin Kelly said her first year in office replacing imprisoned Jesse Jackson Jr. was “like building a ship in the middle of the ocean,” because she was not only a freshman on Capitol Hill, but three months behind all her colleagues.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports it has been a little more than a year since Kelly was sworn in to represent Illinois’ 2nd District in Washington, following a special election to replace Jackson after his conviction for misusing campaign cash.
Kelly easily defeated fifteen other Democrats in the special primary election last year, and then trounced her Republican opponent a few weeks later, after making gun control her main campaign platform. When she was sworn in on April 11, 2013, Congress was already three months into its current session.
“When you come in on a special election, it’s like building a ship in the middle of the ocean. I was three months behind everyone else. I’m very proud … that we were able to put our office together,” she said.
She said her constituents have warmly received her as the new congresswoman, and she’s proud of the job fairs she’s been able to organize, but she wouldn’t exactly call her first year on Capitol Hill fun.
“I’m happy, honored, and humbled to be there, but it has been definitely a challenge. It’s been enlightening,” she said. “I feel good about definitely things we’ve been able to do in this district, but getting legislation passed has been very, very difficult; legislation that I think is appropriate.”
She said some Republican colleagues have said they personally agree with some of her proposals, but have been unwilling to vote for them because of partisan political pressure.
“There are my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that really agree with some of the things that the Democrats are trying to do, but just don’t seem to feel free to vote like they really want,” she said.
She said she believes the whole country has become cynical about politicians in general because of the partisan gridlock in Washington.