Gun control candidates score election wins, look for more in 2018
Gun control backers are crowing over the elections results from Virginia and New Jersey, as well as Washington state, where they claim gun control candidates won the day. And with those wins, the anti-2A crowd is getting more confident they could make major gains in the 2018 congressional elections, as well. From the Wall Street Journal:
Those outcomes in Tuesday’s state and local elections represented victories for Everytown for Gun Safety, said John Feinblatt, the president of the gun-control advocacy group. The group invested $2.2 million in Virginia’s races, matching the NRA’s spending and endorsed Mr. Hurst, he said.
A spokeswoman for the NRA didn’t return a request to comment.
This week’s elections were held six weeks after a mass shooting in Las Vegas and days after another in Sutherland Springs, Texas. An analysis of exit polls by the Washington Post showed that gun policy was second in a list of five issues influencing Virginia voters’ choices, behind health care. The priority was split evenly among Democrats and Republicans, which gun-control groups say indicates its potential as a campaign issue in 2018.
Gun policy has long been considered a key issue driving Republicans to the polls, and defeating NRA-backed candidates in rural areas and communities has proven to be one of the highest hurdles for advocacy groups seeking tougher gun laws.
“The data is now telling us that there is just as much intensity on the antigun violence side” as there is for those who vote for pro-gun rights Republicans, said Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.).
Mr. Murphy has been an outspoken advocate of tougher gun-control measures since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in his home state in 2012. “We are beginning to be able to rival the size and power of the gun lobby,” he said.
"Intensity" is one thing -- and in certain areas, there's no masking the fact that greater gun control wasn't just an issue, it was decisive. But what about next year's congressional races?
Republicans have expressed skepticism that a strategy centered on gun issues will prove effective in 2018 for the Democrats, who need to win 24 seats from Republicans to take control of the House of Representatives.
“They will find that doesn’t work in the districts they need to win the majority,” said Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, the Republican leading the House GOP’s campaign efforts for 2018.
Perhaps. But Republicans are notorious for doing whatever it takes to keep their opponents in the game. It's no different on gun rights. While gun rights organizations have long bene effective at mobilizing their members behind pro-2A candidates -- Democrat and Republican alike -- both the groups and their members must be prepared to respond to the energy, and the emotion, of the gun control crowd.
If not, then they will see emotion win.