New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg spent more than $2 million heavily pushing gun control in two state senate races in Virginia. As the dust of yesterday’s settle, it’s abundantly clear that he was nothing to show for his effort except defeat:
In a closely watched Richmond-area open seat, Republican Glen Sturtevant narrowly defeated Democrat Dan Gecker to hold a seat currently held by retiring GOP Sen. John Watkins.
Thomas A. Shearer, a retiree in Chesterfield County, said he was supporting Sturtevant in part because of the large financial assistance Gecker had received from out-of-state interests like Bloomberg’s gun control group.
“I’m not going to vote for anyone financed that way,” Shearer said.
Sturtevant beat Gecker 50 percent to 47 percent with 100 percent of the vote counted. Sturtevant said he won because he ran a positive campaign focused on key issues like improving Virginia’s business climate and schools.
“You saw that resonate with voters today,” Sturtevant said.
Election Day was a test for McAuliffe’s efforts to build a lasting advantage over Republicans in terms of campaign field work. The governor has often touted his heavy investment in data-driven voter identification and get-out-the-vote efforts that could be used to strengthen Democratic efforts in future contests. Virginia is expected to be a key swing state, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, a close friend of McAuliffe, is the favorite to be the Democratic nominee in the 2016 presidential contest.
McAuliffe was able to tap his rolodex of wealthy donors from his days as a prominent national Democratic fundraiser with close ties to Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
In a statement, the governor said he is “confident that every man and woman elected tonight will come to Richmond ready to join our bipartisan efforts to build a new Virginia economy.”
Virginia’s legislative contest also became a spending war between well-funded national gun control and gun rights groups.
Bloomberg’s gun control group entered the race in the final weeks, announcing it was going to spend $2.2 million helping Democrats in two key Senate races. Bloomberg-backed candidates went one for two in Virginia, with Gecker losing and Democrat Jeremy McPike winning another closely watched and hard-fought race in northern Virginia.
While gun rights groups are sure to note Republican Sturtevant’s victory over gun control supporter Gecker after Bloomberg’s $700,000 injection into that race, I’d make the argument that McPike’s narrow but costly victory is bigger news.
Bloomberg sunk $1.5 million promoting gun control supporter McPike, bombarding the electorate with ads featuring Andy Parker, the father of journalist murdered by a racist gay prostitute Obama supporter on live television along with her cameraman.
Despite Parker’s emotional appeals, it took considerable effort and immense financial support just to avoid losing that seat held by a retiring Democrat, and widening Republican control of the senate.
Republicans comfortably hold control of the state house.
McAuliffe had attempted to turn the 2015 contest into a referendum on gun control, much as his close friend Hillary Clinton is attempting to do in her 2016 Presidential run.
It’s clear voters were not receptive to that message in Virginia.
It remains to be seen if the expensive wasted effort by Bloomberg/McAuliffe in the commonwealth will result in Clinton pulling back on her radical agenda pushing gun confiscation as a key part of her platform.