Everytown for Gun Safety announced on Tuesday that it’s planning to spend at least one million dollars this election cycle in an effort to flip the Minnesota state senate, where Republicans have a slim three-seat majority. Those GOP votes have led to defeat for a couple of important agenda items for the anti-gun group, including a so-called universal background check bill and a red flag firearms seizure bill pushed by Gov. Tim Walz and Democrats in the legislature.
The Northfield News reports that the Michael Bloomberg-funded gun control group will target a dozen Republican state senators this fall while also defending some vulnerable Democrats in the state House as well.
Charlie Kelly, a national senior advisor for the fund, said $1 million could go “extraordinarily far” in Minnesota because they need only a net gain of two Senate seats. The targeted districts include some that Walz won in 2018. Coupled with fieldwork by 200,000 Moms Demand Action supporters in Minnesota, he said, they could have an “outsized impact” on the races.
“Our boots on the ground were a big part of flipping the House and the governor’s mansion (in 2018) and you’re going to see that again in 2020,” he predicted. The group also claims credit for helping Democrats take control of the full Virginia Assembly in 2019 on an aggressive gun control platform and the enactment of new laws there earlier this year.
“No one knows the power of suburban moms better than Moms Demand Action,” said Jessica Deweerth, a Minneapolis mother of two and co-leader of the Moms’ state chapter. “They’re upset and ready to see action.”
At a time of record-high gun sales and growing unrest in Minnesota’s biggest city, will the suburbs really embrace the Bloombergian gun control agenda? The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus doesn’t think so.
“We don’t have Michael Bloomberg in order to give us millions of dollars to spend on elections, but we do have a very motivated and grassroots-driven base,” said Rob Doar, political director of the gun rights group. He said his group typically spends “a few hundred thousand dollars” on legislative races.
But Doar downplayed the impact that Everytown and Moms Demand Action could have, saying every political cause claims credit when there’s a shift in political power. He said he thinks President Donald Trump will be a much bigger factor in the November elections.
Not necessarily to the benefit of the GOP, I might add. Doar says that Trump’s style “does not relate well” to Minnesota, though in 2016, Trump nearly carried the state, losing to Hillary Clinton by less than 50,000 votes statewide in an election that saw 75% voter turnout.
Doar know Minnesota politics better than I do, but I can’t help but think that beyond Donald Trump, voters are also going to be thinking about the push by Minneapolis City Council members to dismantle the city’s police department, as well as the response to the coronavirus on the part of Democrat Gov. Tim Walz. It may very well be that many suburban moms like the idea of more gun control, but hate the idea of defunding police or pulling public safety officers out of their local schools. How do they vote in November?
The anti-gun ad campaign against the dozen Republican state senators could have an impact on some voters, but the biggest key to political survival for those politicians is to turn out their base in November, and a million-dollar ad buy from Bloomberg may actually help the GOP candidates with their messaging. “Don’t let an out-of-state and out-of-touch billionaire gut your Second Amendment rights,” is a pretty solid message, and it has the added benefit of being true. Bloomberg’s spending doesn’t guarantee that his candidates are going to win in November, but the state needs every gun owner to be engaged and involved as Election Day draws near, and reminding them of what’s at stake will be crucial to increasing their turnout.