I truly hope Mayor Bloomberg’s super-pac will run powerful ads against the gun lobby…
A Chicagoland special House election to replace disgraced former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has suddenly become Ground Zero of the national gun control debate, courtesy of anti-gun crusader Mike Bloomberg.
The billionaire New York City mayor’s super PAC is poised to dump at least $2 million into the race, sources told POLITICO — a staggering sum for a single House race that’s meant to thwart a National Rifle Association-aligned Democrat who was cruising along as the frontrunner until a barrage of Bloomberg-financed attack ads hit the airwaves.
The massive independent expenditure by Independence USA PAC dwarfs what any of the 17 Democratic candidates have raised themselves. It’s a none-too-subtle statement of Bloomberg’s intention to take on the NRA after the Newtown, Conn. school shooting — though it’s debatable how much of a test case it is since the NRA is staying out of the race.
The bulk of Bloomberg’s cash has financed an air war against Debbie Halvorson, a former one-term congresswoman and longtime ex-state legislator with an “A” rating from the NRA. The lone white candidate in the Democratic field, she’s hoping that her base of suburban and rural voters in the southern outskirts of the district — who by and large favor gun rights — will be enough to give her the small plurality it will take to win.
The Democratic primary is on Feb. 26. The general election is all but irrelevant given the district’s heavy Democratic makeup.
“I believe that substantial expenditure by the forces doing battle with gun violence will likely send a real … loud warning to a lot of members of Congress that it’s no longer safe to side with the NRA — that’s really what’s going on here,” said Robert Creamer, a partner at Democracy Partners who has followed the race.
Indeed, gun control advocates believe that defeating Halvorson would send a message nationally that the climate has changed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in December.
With the NRA steering clear, the air waves are awash in Bloomberg’s millions without any significant response. Still, Bloomberg’s ad onslaught comes as a number of Democrats have urged him to become a counterweight to the NRA when it comes to political spending, and as his aides have met with President Barack Obama’s advisers about coordinating on gun control efforts.
A Bloomberg adviser said he made the decision to spend the money “without blinking.”
“The fact that it’s a special election, the fact that it’s in the middle of a national debate over the president’s plan … [there is an] understanding that it’s both a bellwether and a harbinger.”
Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for the PAC, said the group is trying to seize “distinct window of opportunity” to make headway on gun control while the public is paying close attention.
“We must and we will continue to be aggressive in informing voters across the country about the necessity of electing leaders who will stand up to the NRA and help pass the president’s gun reform package,” she said.
An NRA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bloomberg, who until this week had only gone after Halvorson, is now backing Democratic state lawmaker Robin Kelly. A number of other members of the Illinois congressional delegation are also rallying around Kelly, who released internal data showing her inching ahead of Halvorson in the wake of the Bloomberg ads.
Bloomberg also backed a handful of candidates last year in general elections in House districts, largely over the gun issue. But that was before the schoolhouse massacre.
- Bloomberg takes gun fight to Chicago (politico.com)
- Obama Returns To Chicago Against Backdrop Of Gun-Centered Election (buzzfeed.com)
- Bloomberg Turns Chicago Race Into Test Case on Guns (newser.com)
- Bloomberg PAC steps up campaign against pro-gun Dem (usatoday.com)
- OMG! A Pro-Gun Dem! Running for Congress! OMG! (thetruthaboutguns.com)
- Third SuperPac jumps into 2nd CD race to tackle NRA-supported candidates (blogs.suntimes.com)
- Bloomberg Picks Gun Control as Key to Illinois Special Election (swampland.time.com)
- Bloomberg takes gun fight to Chicago (oddonion.com)