Gun management advocates are gearing as much as make Texas their high political battleground in November.
Everytown for Gun Security announced in February that it will spend no less than $eight million this election cycle within the state, primarily specializing in U.S. Home and state Home races. On Monday, the Michael Bloomberg-backed group introduced the primary spherical of that spending — a $250,000 digital advert marketing campaign concentrating on Republicans in 5 key congressional races. And on Thursday, the group is naming three staffers to assist with its Texas marketing campaign, together with two veteran Democratic operatives.
The strikes arrange Everytown to be one of many greatest gamers in down-ballot races this cycle in Texas, exterior of the Democratic and Republican occasion committees.
Texas is “clearly rising as a high battleground state — there’s simply no query about it — and it is why we’re investing $eight million within the state this cycle,” Everytown senior political adviser Charlie Kelly mentioned. “Between the funding and our community of 400,000 grassroots supporters, our objective is to do no matter it takes to elect gun sense candidates up and down the poll within the state.”
Everytown is additional doubling down on its dedication to Texas with the trio of hires, which have been first shared with The Texas Tribune. Jenna Royal, a former Mothers Demand Motion volunteer from North Texas, can be Everytown’s Texas political director, and James Aldrete and Adrian Saenz will function particular advisers on Texas and Spanish-language media. Each Aldrete and Saenz have deep expertise in Texas in addition to nationwide politics, notably with Latino outreach.
Everytown is looking its $eight million effort right here “Gun Sense Majority: Texas,” describing it as one among its largest state investments but. It contains TV and digital adverts, in addition to junk mail and a subject program drawn from its large grassroots arms, Mothers Demand Motion and College students Demand Motion. They are going to be pushing for insurance policies that proceed to register broad assist in polling, beginning with common background checks.
Everytown will not be the one nationwide gun management group zeroing in on Texas this cycle. Brady PAC is about to spend over $500,000, a sum that its government director mentioned is rising from an initially “modest funding” within the combat for the state Home majority. Democrats are 9 seats down in that chamber.
“It simply form of snowballed as we lifted up the hood and noticed all of the alternatives that existed,” the chief director, Brian Lemek, mentioned.
Whereas it has not introduced spending plans but, Giffords, the group named after former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, additionally sees Texas as a spot the place it will probably make a distinction this cycle. It’s backing Democrat MJ Hegar in her run towards Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, and final month it endorsed a slate of seven U.S. Home candidates throughout the state.
Like many Democrats, the teams are inspired by the state’s more and more numerous voters and the down-ballot good points that Democrats made in 2018. However additionally they see a state that has seen a disproportionate quantity of mass shootings lately — and consider voters are extra annoyed than ever with Republican leaders who’ve declined to crack down on weapons every time.
Kelly likened Everytown’s give attention to Texas to its efforts in 2019 in Virginia, the place it spent $2.5 million to assist Democrats seize each chambers of the state legislature. The breakthrough got here months after Republicans within the Normal Meeting refused to behave on gun management proposals after a shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building that left 12 people dead.
Kelly mentioned Everytown “made an instance of” Virginia Republicans, “and we intend to do the identical in Texas.”
The teams face a steeper problem in Texas than they did in Virginia, the place Republicans already had slim majorities in each chambers. Within the Texas Home, Democrats are nine seats away from the majority, and no less than twice as many districts are in play. In U.S. Home races, nationwide Democrats are concentrating on seven seats whereas defending two.
For its debut digital advert purchase, Everytown went after 4 endangered Republican congressmen up for reelection: Reps. Dan Crenshaw of Houston, John Carter of Spherical Rock, Michael McCaul of Austin and Chip Roy of Austin. The adverts additionally focused Beth Van Duyne, the Republican nominee to interchange retiring Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, whose seat Democrats are working to flip.
“We’re clear-eyed and dispassionate relating to funding,” mentioned Kelly, who spent the 2018 cycle as the chief director for Home Majority PAC, the highest Democratic tremendous PAC in U.S. Home contests. “We need to go the place we are able to win and make the most important influence.”
Republicans are scoffing at Everytown’s push in Texas, saying the group’s proposals quantity to an encroachment on Second Modification rights that won’t play nicely in a state with wealthy gun custom. Republicans are additionally rallying supporters with the specter of its co-founder: Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York Metropolis who unsuccessfully ran within the Democratic presidential main earlier this yr.
“The very last thing Texans want or need is Mike Bloomberg’s darkish cash group lecturing them on banning weapons,” mentioned Bob Salera, a spokesman for the Nationwide Republican Congressional Committee.
Gun management advocates argue public opinion is on their aspect, no less than relating to proposals akin to common background checks and pink flag legal guidelines, which permit legislation enforcement to quickly seize weapons from individuals whom a decide deems harmful. In a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll launched in February, for instance, 79% of the state’s voters supported background checks for all gun gross sales.
Lemek mentioned Brady PAC is moreover targeted on protected storage legal guidelines, calling them particularly related in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, when households are spending rather more time at dwelling than ordinary.
In interviews, Kelly and Lemek indicated their methods have been much less centered on extra politically charged proposals akin to banning assault weapons — or necessary buybacks of such weapons, an concept popularized final yr by former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. Kelly mentioned common background checks are a place to begin for Everytown, and “our objective is clearly transfer ahead on that entrance, and there are different locations that we’ll go, however the important thing right here is we have now nearly common assist” for common background checks. Lemek mentioned he understands the “apprehension” that some candidates have round outlawing assault weapons however that Brady encourages a extra nuanced dialogue advocating “not essentially a ban” however for there to be “no assault weapons produced after which offered from a retail retailer” going ahead.
That’s the strategy taken by, for instance, Hegar, whose platform says the nation should “cease the sale of assault weapons to the general public.”
Common background checks, although, are anticipated to reign supreme within the teams’ messaging. It was the singular coverage proposal featured within the digital adverts that Everytown rolled out Monday, 30-second spots that start on a well timed theme.
“COVID-19 will not be the one public well being disaster going through Texas households,” a narrator says.
The adverts caught the eye of no less than one of many GOP targets, Crenshaw, who despatched out a fundraising e-mail Tuesday titled “Now Mike Bloomberg is spreading lies about me.” He provided three factors taking subject with common background checks, arguing the advert “advocates for a coverage that may infringe on the Second Modification liberties of the American individuals with out ever stopping the tragedies all of us need to forestall.”
Disclosure: Everytown for Gun Security and the College of Texas have been monetary supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan information group that’s funded partly by donations from members, foundations and company sponsors. Monetary supporters play no position within the Tribune’s journalism. Discover a full record of them here.
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