Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to take on the National Rifle Association in his first post-office political contest. Bloomberg is pledging to spend $50 million to build a cross-country gun control activist organization.
Bloomberg says he plans to use the same tactics he believes the NRA uses.
“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’ ” he said of the N.R.A. “ ‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ ”
He added: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”
Bloomberg has already spent millions promoting gun control all to no avail so far.
Whether the money and the hardball tactics will prove more effective is anyone’s guess, but part of the new strategy could prove interesting. Bloomberg wants to focus more on getting out the vote than advertising.
Mr. Bloomberg’s blueprint reimagines the way gun control advocates have traditionally confronted the issue. Rather than relying so heavily on television ad campaigns, Mr. Bloomberg will put a large portion of his resources into the often-unseen field operations that have been effective for groups like the N.R.A. in driving single-issue, like-minded voters to the polls.
One of the NRA’s open secrets has always been that unlike other powerful special interests in Washington the NRA actually has support among the electorate. Not only can they raise money and smack politicians in the media, they can swing elections.
Whether Bloomberg’s new group can ever match the NRA’s ability to alter electoral outcomes is hard to say but some level of counter balance could effect the calculus in Washington on gun control legislation.
Photo by David Shankbone under Creative Commons license.