(CN) — A gun control advocacy group co-founded by billionaire former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said Monday it is launching a $4.5 million ad campaign in pivotal battleground states blasting Republicans on gun safety and their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the closing weeks of the 2020 election season, Everytown for Gun Safety said its TV, digital, print and mail ads will “highlight Republicans’ failure to keep Americans safe from both Covid-19 and gun violence.”
Asserting the GOP has been putting the interests of gun lobbyists ahead of public safety, the group says the ads will call for Americans to elect “gun sense candidates” on Nov. 3.
“As Covid-19 rates rise and gun violence continues to claim 100 American lives a day, Everytown is doubling down on our work to hold politicians accountable for failing to address these two public health emergencies,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a press release on Monday.
Feinblatt added, “A clear majority of Americans want stronger gun laws, and we’re going to make sure their voices are heard on Election Day.”
Everytown said it is spending the money across six states with competitive congressional and state legislative contests - Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.
In the coming weeks, $700,000 worth of the group’s get-out-the-vote ads will focus on those states that are considered key battlegrounds for control of the House of Representatives, including Arizona, North Carolina and Texas.
A whopping $2 million in additional spending will go specifically toward targeting Republican candidates Troy Nehls in Texas’ 22nd Congressional District and Beth Van Duyne in Texas’ 24th Congressional District. The negative ads are set to condemn Nehls, who is running against Democrat Sri Kulkarni, over his endorsement from the National Rifle Association. Duyne will likewise face a negative ad campaign from Everytown for having accepted money from the NRA.
The group will also spend more than $1.4 million in TV and digital ads targeting state legislative races in Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas. According to Everytown, those ads will focus on “the failure of Republicans to act on gun violence, and how that mimics their failure to act on the Covid-19 pandemic” that has killed 220,000 Americans.
“You can’t overestimate the importance of this election, up and down the ballot — from the presidential race to statehouse contests across the country,” Charlie Kelly, senior political adviser for Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement.
The latest initiative is part of the group’s $60 million in total spending on 2020 races, which is twice the amount it spent during the 2018 midterm election cycle.
It also includes a $350,000 direct mail campaign, which will be sent to voters in competitive legislative districts in Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. The mailers will include messages from gun violence survivors urging residents to vote out Republicans who have refused to pass gun reform laws.
Another $50,000 in print ads will run in Texas, targeting GOP members of the state legislature who have refused to implement laws like background checks for all gun sales.
“As people are heading to the polls, we’re going to be there to remind voters which lawmakers have done absolutely nothing to prevent our gun violence crisis, and urge them to elect gun sense candidates,” Kelly said.
Bloomberg, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination before dropping out and supporting former Vice President Joe Biden, has also helped raise over $16 million to pay court fines and fees for more than 30,000 Black and Latino voters in Florida with felonies. Those fees would otherwise prevent them from voting.