As the coronavirus outbreak ravages fundraising efforts by political campaigns across Texas, the political affiliate of one of the country’s oldest gun violence prevention groups is bringing reinforcements to the state, where it sees Democrats’ efforts to flip the state houses as among the most important races in the nation.
BradyPAC is the latest gun safety group to turn its attention to Texas, planning to spend more than half a million on elections in the state — more than it’s spending anywhere in the nation by far — as it remains the top target in 2020 for groups pushing for new gun laws.
“If you can get Texas passing strong gun laws, I think that sends a really strong message to the rest of the country,” said Brian Lemek, executive director of the political action committee affiliated with Brady, a nonprofit formed in 1974 that advocates for assault weapons bans, red flag laws and stricter gun storage requirements, among other things.
Texas gun rights groups are also stepping up fundraising, warning supporters that they need to help defend 20 seats in the Texas House this fall.
BradyPAC’s spending plans — the full extent of which were shared exclusively with the Houston Chronicle — come as other activists, including the Everytown for Gun Safety group backed by former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, have said they plan to spend millions in Texas on an “unprecedented financial and grassroots effort” to flip the Texas House, defend vulnerable freshmen Democrats in Congress and help Democrats take congressional seats in the suburbs.
I read this story and it reminded me that I had drafted a post about Everytown making the same pledge to pour a bunch of money into Texas with an eye towards helping Dems take over the Lege. That was from before the coronavirus madness, so about five hundred years ago in quarantine time. To save myself a bit of typing, here’s what I had written then, which works as well for this story now, plus the extra vigorish of the knowing that our current leadership thinks gun stores are “essential businesses”. Read on for that earlier post.
Texas is a top target for gun safety groups that helped flip Virginia’s state House blue last year — and they’re planning to go big here, with one group announcing Wednesday it will spend three times what it spent in Virginia — at least $8 million — supporting candidates and buying ads.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a Michael Bloomberg-backed group that pushes for expanded background checks, red flag laws and other measures, is plotting what its political director calls an “unprecedented financial and grassroots effort” to flip the Texas House, defend vulnerable freshmen Democrats in Congress and help Democrats take congressional seats in the suburbs. A memo detailing the plan, the group’s biggest state investment to date, was shared exclusively with Hearst Newspapers.
“We believe that Texas, as it becomes younger and increasingly diverse, can be the next emerging battleground state with gun safety as the tipping point,” Chris Carr, the group’s political director wrote in the memo. “We believe there are opportunities to elect gun sense candidates up and down the ballot, from the statehouse to the U.S. Congress — and potentially even statewide.”
It’s part of a broader national strategy by the group that includes spending at least $60 million, twice what it spent during the 2018 elections.
“Texas is definitely the big target,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group of activists affiliated with Everytown. The group has 400,000 volunteers on the ground in Texas already, Watts said.
Everytown is also planning to go on the offensive against Republican U.S. Reps. Dan Crenshaw, Michael McCaul, Chip Roy and John Carter, and it’s planning to spend big in districts left open by retiring Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Will Hurd.
But the state House — where Democrats need to flip nine more seats to gain control — is the biggest goal, as it was in Virginia, and most of the group’s targets are in the Houston and Dallas suburbs.
As the story notes, expanding background checks for gun sales polls well in Texas, which is something that Everytown and Moms Demand will surely hammer on. I believe the poll numbers, but it’s not clear to me how much difference it makes. Will Republicans who say they support background checks vote for a Democrat who support them over a Republican who doesn’t? Color me skeptical. I believe this issue can gin up turnout, but I believe that will work both ways, at least to some extent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to have all this happening, I’m just managing my expectations. I’ll be happy to be pleasantly surprised.