Michael Bloomberg will go down as one of the biggest losers of the 2020 election cycle, even though he wasn’t on the ballot on Tuesday. The anti-gun sugar daddy and former mayor of New York spent more than a billion dollars in his bid to win the Democratic nomination, and when his four-month campaign failed to achieve lift off, he vowed to devote his resources to helping Democrats not only win the White House, but to take control of state legislatures around the country.
It turns out that Bloomberg is much better at spending money than he is at influencing elections. In Florida, where Bloomberg vowed to spend $100-million to deliver the state to Joe Biden, Trump not only won handily, but Republicans picked up a pair of House seats in the Miami-Dade area, cutting into the Democratic control of the U.S. House. Even Bloomberg’s efforts to restore voting rights to felons most likely to vote Democrat wasn’t enough to get Biden over the top.
In Iowa, Bloomberg’s gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety spent $1-million in an attempt to flip the state House. The actual result? Big Republican gains. Not only did the GOP maintain control of the state House, they actually picked up enough seats to flip the state Senate and turn it red as well.
Everytown spent more than $2-million to flip the Texas state House, with similar results.
Republicans seemed poised to hold onto their majority in the Texas House on Tuesday, fighting off a well-financed attempt by Democrats to flip the lower chamber for the first time in nearly two decades.
The GOP’s likely electoral success solidifies the balance of power heading into a legislative session that state lawmakers say will be their toughest in years, and it almost certainly means the next speaker of the House — to be elected when lawmakers convene in January — will be a Republican. The issues before the Legislature will include a budget strained by recession, state responses to the pandemic and a once-in-a-decade redistricting process — always a divisive and partisan affair.
It was unclear on election night how many seats the Republicans and Democrats will hold when the Legislature convenes in January, but it appeared from incomplete returns that it will be close to the 83-67 split between the two parties during the 2019 legislative session.
Minnesota was another state targeted by Everytown. The group spend more than $1-million in an effort to flip the state Senate, which would have given Democrats complete control of the state legislature as well as the executive branch, and while there are still some races that have yet to be called, it looks like the GOP may actually pick up a couple of seats.
As of Election Day, Republicans had a 35-32 majority in the state Senate, while the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party has a 75-59 majority in the state House.
Republicans are projected to pick up two seats in the south Twin Cities metro. DFL Sen. Matt Little, of Lakeville, is projected to lose his Senate seat to Republican challenger Zach Duckworth. DFL State Sen. Greg Clausen, of Apple Valley, is projected to lose to Republican Jose Jiminez.
Democrats may be able to flip a couple of Republican senate districts, but it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to pick off three more GOP state senators, leaving the chamber in control of pro-Second Amendment lawmakers who’ve resisted calls for things like red flag gun seizure laws.
Bloomberg’s gun control groups also spent heavily in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina state legislative races. Arizona still has several races outstanding, and one or both chambers could still flip to Democrats, but it looks like pro-2A lawmakers will remain in control of the statehouses in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Even if Democrats in Arizona manage to take control of the state House, Senate, or both, I don’t think Michael Bloomberg is going to get credit. Instead, the losses will rightfully be seen as just part of an awful night for the GOP in Arizona.
If nothing else, Michael Bloomberg has shown us that money isn’t everything in politics. His massive spending failed to deliver the gun control majorities that Everytown promised, and instead the 2A vote was able to overcome the spending gap and ensure that in state legislatures from Texas to North Carolina, anti-gun legislation will face a hostile reception.