A $2.5 million spending spree by the gun-control organization Everytown For Gun Safety targeted three seats in Virginia with contributions, mailings and digital ads. The group is affiliated with former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and they were the biggest outside contributor in the Virginia legislature races that turned from red to blue on Tuesday.
Everytown officials — who provided CNN with details of their Virginia strategy — say their approach to the off-year election demonstrates the potency of the gun-safety message one year before the nation heads to the polls to decide control of Congress and the White House. The spending also underscores how aggressively the deep-pocketed group will pursue its agenda in the months ahead. Everytown outspent the embattled National Rifle Association by roughly 8-to-1 in Virginia, plowing money into the state to target vulnerable Republicans months in advance of Tuesday’s election.
Everytown and the Democrats focused on gun control issues following a Virginia Beach mass shooting on May 31 that left 12 dead. Governor Ralph Northam (D) ordered a special session in July to take up a number of gun control bills, but Republican leadership ended the session only 90 minutes in before considering a single bill. Soon after, Everytown began targeting Republicans in swing districts, primarily suburbs.
NRA officials this week said it’s not uncommon for Bloomberg-funded groups to outspend them in politics and insisted their membership ranks remained strongly committed to the gun-rights cause.
“Anti-gun organizations are backed by distant billionaires, not local interests,” Jason Ouimet, head of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. “These elitists funnel money into our communities to prop-up weak candidates defined by one trait: their willingness to bow to the billionaire’s gun control agenda, even if it turns great places-like Virginia-into New York City.”
More at CNN.