Bloomberg's Money Hunt on Pro-Gun Senators Could Backfire

The Atlantic
Bloomberg's Money Hunt on Pro-Gun Senators Could Backfire
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Bloomberg's Money Hunt on Pro-Gun Senators Could Backfire

The number-one rule in politics is "follow the money," which is why New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is fighting back against Democratic Senators over their gun votes by targeting their donors. On Wednesday, Bloomberg sent a letter to hunderds of high-rolling New York Democrats, asking them to choke off funds for the four Democratic Senators who helped block the major background-check bill earlier this year. The four Senators — Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — have raised more than $2.2 million from New York state according to The New York Times, and all four voted with Republicans to filibuster a bill on universal background checks.

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While the move might have some logic behind it, strategically, it could do more harm than good. What money those four Senators lose in New York dollars could easily be made up from pro-gun voters who would love nothing more than to stick it to the Big City's nanny-state mayor. Or even worse, from the Democratic perspective: Bloomberg's ploy could actually work to unseat these four Senators ... and replace them with "a 100 percent A-rated N.R.A. Republican."

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Bloomberg being Bloomberg, of course, the mayor doesn't really care. As a politician who is used to playing by a different set of rules (and isn't facing his own re-election), he simply wants to make guns a key issue for the Democrats nationally, and pressure party leaders to keep everyone in line. And as a billionaire he also understands better than anyone that money talks in politics. On MSNBC this morning, Bloomberg defended his strategy by saying, "Going after these guys and saying not to give money to them is the way democracy should work."

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The four targeted Senators seem happy for the attention. Pryor has already crafted an ad saying, "The mayor of New York City is running ads against me," which is the next best thing to an endorsement in Arkansas. And Begich said, "In Alaska, having a New York mayor tell us what to do? ... If anything, it might help me."

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