It was like a nightmare for firearm owners: As of Wednesday evening, former New York City mayor and Second Amendment scold Michael Bloomberg had risen to third place in the national poll average for the Democratic presidential nomination, right behind the plummeting former Vice President Joe Biden. He’d quickly become the toast of the establishment, the only thing preventing a hard-left socialist from marching to standard-bearer status.
Wednesday evening turned to night and, like an afternoon nap that lasted way too long, we all woke up from the nightmare about five minutes into the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas.
If this is Thursday and you’re just waking up, having figured another one of these things wasn’t worth losing sleep over, I have one word for Bloomberg’s performance: Ouch.
The debate ended at 11 p.m. in the East. I half-expected an 11:05 p.m. EST news conference in which he announced he was suspending his campaign.
There’s not enough time to go into what an odious faceplant Hizzoner managed on Wednesday; I’ll merely observe that if you google “TurboTax” or “non-disclosure agreement” for the next few days, the site for the software or a description of the legal document won’t be the only things that get returned.
Bottom line, a truncated version of how things stand: Short of a miraculous recovery that makes Bill Clinton’s 1992 primary performance look pretty eh, Michael Bloomberg won’t be our next president.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to take your guns, though, at least if you live in Texas.
According to the Washington Examiner, Everytown for Gun Safety — Bloomberg’s astroturf gun control group — is planning to use what it believes to be the changing demographics of Texas for a major ad push it hopes will lead to more stringent gun control laws in both the Lone Star State and Washington, D.C.
“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, political director for Everytown, said in a statement.
“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,” he said.
The group plans an $8 million ad blitz followed by an unprecedented $60 million to try and influence the 2020 election.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Everytown’s plan is straightforward: Flip the Texas statehouse through an “unprecedented financial and grassroots effort,” defend Democrat freshmen in close U.S. House districts and try to win Republican seats in the suburbs the same way Democrats did in the 2018 midterms. The fact the group is targeting Texas has to do with positive polling numbers for its less-controversial measures.
“Eighty-seven percent of likely voters in Texas said they support background checks on all gun purchases, while 80 percent support red flag laws, according to a poll commissioned by Everytown and shared with Hearst Newspapers. It follows a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released this week that found 79 percent support background checks for all gun purchases,” the Chronicle reported.
Beyond the fact that there’s little evidence background checks work and red flag laws — which basically eliminate all due process when it comes to seizing firearms from individuals deemed “dangerous” — sound great until they’re implemented, keep in mind that’s not really what Everytown wants.
Everytown for Gun Safety may have a terminally clubfooted name, but it also has an outsized role in American politics.
In Virginia, its money and strategy helped flip the state legislature, which in turn has led to an attempt to ram through a suite of gun control legislation, including bans on the sale of so-called assault weapons and possession of firearm clips holding over 12 rounds. (Both blessedly failed in the state Senate, where members were worried about the effects such a seismic shift would have on the vote the next time Virginians go to the ballot box.)
Molly Bursey still thinks this kind of push can work in Texas. She’s the leader of a San Antonio-area chapter of Moms Demand Action, another Bloomberg anti-gun astroturf-tastic pressure group.
Bursey told the Chronicle that while the red part of the electorate is going to react to this kind of push with a collective conniption, purple and blue voters are “fired up to get to work” to reverse a loosening of firearm restrictions enacted in September.
“People can’t really believe that … instead of passing laws that most Texans agree with, they’re really just loosening restrictions on who can carry a gun and where, and that’s not what Texans want,” she said. “I think people have had enough. They’re paying attention.”
Well, certain people, yes. Certain other groups are paying attention as well.
“The Texas State Rifle Association sent an email to supporters earlier this month warning of the type of spending Everytown is now planning,” the Chronicle reported.
“The rifle association declared an early victory in Fort Bend County when Republican Gary Gates beat Eliz Markowitz, a Democrat backed by gun safety groups, in a closely watched special election for state House last month.”
An email from the group said, “Though gun control advocates and gun-grabbing politicians failed to lay down a marker in this particular contest, the amount of resources they invested in this race demonstrates their commitment to turn Texas ‘blue’ and make the Lone Star State their next target after Virginia for passing radical restrictions on our rights.”
To a certain extent, one wonders whether this is exactly the state to pick. Virginia and Texas both have changing demographics, but that’s not the whole story.
Virginia was a swing state that has slowly morphed from red to blue, partially because of demographic change but to a great extent from an influx of career bureaucrats who favor the Northern Virginia suburbs over the District itself. It wasn’t terribly conservative before this.
Since 1990, Virginia has had two Republican senators.
The first, John Warner, was in office from 1979 to 2009 and pretty much got re-elected on tenure and the advantage of incumbency. When he retired, he was replaced by Democrat Mark Warner (no relation), who continues to hold the seat.
The other, George Allen, made it in on George W. Bush’s coattails in 2000. (It didn’t hurt that he was the son of legendary Washington Redskins football coach George Allen.) Six years later, he was voted out in favor of Democrat Jim Webb, in large part because of an ill-advised comment about a Democratic opposition research member that could charitably be called dumb and uncharitably be called racist.
All of which is to say Virginia has been moving in one direction for a long time.
Texas has been moving in another.
The Democrats once had an iron grip on the state, then at least a strong foothold. Those of us of a certain age and/or who are certifiable political junkies will remember former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and her famous (slash-infamous) keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1988: “Poor George [Bush],” she drawled. “He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
When she left office in 1993, Richards was the last Democratic governor of Texas. That was the same year Texas had its last Democrat senator.
We’ve been told that Texas is going to turn blue any cycle now. The latest proof is that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, with nearly unlimited money and media adulation, almost beat Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. This race was sui generis, however; Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, arguably a more divisive figure, won a 56-43 victory over his nearest opponent.
So, no, Texas going blue still seems like a bit of a fantasy, as are applying the kind of gun control measures Democrats are behind in Virginia.
That said, Michael Bloomberg isn’t a man who gives up easily. He might still win the White House, but that debate will be difficult to come back from.
As for Everytown’s influence in 2020 elections, that’s not something we can sleep on.
Texas isn’t Virginia. Does that mean it can’t go that way? Conservatives shouldn’t get overconfident; when Bloomberg doesn’t have to take to a debate stage, he can be awfully effective.
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