A lot of people complain about “dark money” in politics. They don’t like it when groups can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to try and sway an election. It’s an unmitigated evil in their minds…unless it’s Michael Bloomberg pushing gun control.
After all, the former mayor of New York City and the groups he backs are nothing more than dark money efforts to push their ideological agenda on the rest of us.
In Virginia, he’s doing it all over again, too.
A gun-control group that helped turn Virginia blue two years ago plans to spend more than $1.8 million in a bid to shape the state’s gubernatorial race and other down-ballot contests this fall, according to spending plans shared first with CNN.
Everytown for Gun Safety, backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, plans to pump roughly $1 million into its efforts to elect Democrat Terry McAuliffe, with another $500,000 going to support a dozen Democrats running for the House of Delegates.
An additional $300,000 will aid the campaigns of state lawmaker Hala Ayala, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Mark Herring, who is seeking a third term as attorney general.
John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown, said the group likely will drive even more money this fall into contests in Virginia, which he said would serve as a “bellwether” for the 2022 midterm elections and the potency of gun violence as a campaign issue.
“Voters are seeing an epidemic within an epidemic,” he said. “We’ve had to deal with the Covid pandemic, but what we’re also seeing is a rise in violent crime, and that’s making voters even more supportive of gun-safety laws.”
In 2019, Everytown was one of the biggest outside political players in Virginia, spending $2.5 million in legislative elections that saw Democrats take control of the state’s executive and legislative branches for the first time in more than two decades.
Of course, what people forget is that Virginia had been leaning leftward more and more due to growth in Northern Virginia, which tends to pick up overflow from Washington DC. Most of the state wanted nothing at all to do with gun control, which is why so many counties adopted sanctuary resolutions in the immediate aftermath of the 2019 election.
Now, they’re going to spend $1.8 million to put Terry McAuliffe back in the governor’s mansion.
The upside is that Northam can’t run for re-election this year, but I’m not sure McAuliffe would be the least bit better. Republican Greg Youngkin, McAuliffe’s opponent, would be much better.
But can he win in Virginia as things currently stand?
I’m not so sure that’s the slam dunk some think. While violent crime has increased, so has gun ownership. Gun ownership is closely correlated with pro-Second Amendment voting, which means a lot of the people who voted for anti-Second Amendment lawmakers in 2019 might not be so eager to repeat that this time around, regardless of how much much Bloomberg spends.
The question is whether this will be the bellwether some believe, and I don’t think it is regardless of who wins. Virginia is Virginia and it’s kind of a weird mix in a lot of ways. While it might be indicative of presidential elections, I don’t think it tells anyone anything about any other kind of political question.
Regardless, pro-Second Amendment groups can see the mark. It’s up to them to push back and not let Bloomberg have his way with the Old Dominion state.