The Virginia gubernatorial and attorney general races remain close, despite the influx of cash provided to both Democratic candidates by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control advocacy group.
Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, a New York based gun control advocacy group founded by Bloomberg, pledged roughly $1 million in combined campaign contributions in a Sept. 14 announcement. The advocacy group contributed roughly $300,000 to Democratic incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring’s campaign and $700,000 to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam’s campaign.
“We are making this initial investment because Ralph Northam and Mark Herring have been forceful champions for gun violence prevention in Virginia, while their opponents subscribe to a dangerous ‘guns everywhere’ agenda,” Brynne Craig, a senior strategist for Everytown, said in a statement.
Despite the windfall of cash, the most recent polling indicates that Republican former federal prosecutor and White House aide John Adams trails Herring 47 to 42 percent. Six weeks before election day, Northam holds a similar advantage over Republican challenger Ed Gillespie, whom he leads 47 to 41 percent.
Bloomberg has spent considerable resources highlighting the gun control debate in Virginia politics in years past.
Bloomberg’s super PAC launched a $1 million dollar ad effort in 2013 to support then state Sen. Herring in his initial attorney general bid against Republican nominee Mark Obenshain during the last week of the race. The contribution came atop the roughly $2 million in ad buys Bloomberg spent that year attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli. In both cases the contributions allowed for nonstop television ads attacking the candidates for their support of the Second Amendment. The campaign spending may have ultimately proved effective, as Herring won the race and went on to eliminate Virginia’s gun reciprocity agreement with 25 states.
Everytown spent $2,368,655 in Virginia on two state senate races in 2015, but failed to flip either seat. Republicans retained their majority in both houses that year, effectively preventing Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s attempts to impose certain gun control measures through executive order in 2016.
Virginia Democratic political operative Paul Goldman attributed the Democrats’ 2015 failure to the influx of out of state ad dollars thrust on Virginians in the days leading up to the 2015 election.
“Definitely Bloomberg backlash,” Goldman told the Richmond Times-Dispatch following the election.
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