Since its formation last October, the ironically named Independence USA, the super PAC (political action committee) started by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has pledged to support the campaigns of gun-control candidates nationwide as a redress to what it describes as America’s “scourge of gun violence.”
Now that the PAC has actually helped a gun control candidate win an election in Illinois, Bloomberg has ramped up the anti-gun part of the fund’s message with a warning to the National Rifle Association that it won’t win a spending contest when the 2014 congressional and gubernatorial election season heats up.
According to a report from The Hill, Independence USA has plans to aggressively promote candidates who run on a strong gun control platform.
Perhaps taking a bit too much credit for the national implications of Robin Kelly’s victory over Debbie Halvorson in a special Democratic primary election to fill a vacant congressional seat in Illinois this week, Independence USA spokesman Stefan Friedman pointed to the win as an indicator that Bloomberg’s gun control PAC is just getting warmed up.
“If this election proved anything, it is that the NRA is no longer alone in being able to educate voters and have their positions taken seriously,” Friedman said.
Bloomberg himself said after the election that voting in a gun control advocate to represent Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District marked “the latest sign that voters across the country are demanding change” from Washington to place heavier restrictions on access to guns.
Never mind the fact that voters in the district already lean heavily in favor of gun control or that Halvorson, who nominally supports 2nd Amendment rights, was playing from behind. The Bloomberg money clearly mattered in helping Kelly to victory, and it will matter in future races. But some districts’ voters, particularly in the rural South, won’t budge anytime soon on gun control for any liberal candidate, no matter how well-funded.
Perhaps the greatest impact Independence USA can have on forthcoming elections is its potential coercive power — that is, the power to seduce candidates who are either on the fence about gun control or would rather keep quiet on the topic — with campaign dollars.
Bloomberg’s PAC spent more than $2 million on the Chicagoland primary. And there’s a lot more where that came from.