Serves them right? Several liberal groups are lining up to shame the Senate Democrats who voted against a bipartisan compromise to expand background checks for gun purchases—something nearly nine in 10 Americans support.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) said it plans to run approximately $100,000 in print advertisements against Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska. Of the four, all of whom preside in gun-friendly states, Begich, Pryor and Baucus all face re-election next year.
The Senate voted 54-46 against the compromise, which would have expanded background checks to cover gun shows and online sale of firearms. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted “no” as a procedural mechanism, so he can reintroduce the amendment at a later time. It needed 60 votes to pass after a GOP filibuster was threatened.
“We’ll be holding accountable Democrats who voted against their constituents by running ads in their states, featuring some 23,000 gun owners who have joined our campaign for common sense gun reform,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the PCCC.
The California-based Courage Campaign told its members to hold any donations to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) if these Democrat fundraising machines provide funds for the senators’ re-election campaigns.
The DNC did not immediately return requests for comment. So far, there are no indications from the organization that it would pull financial or verbal support from the four Democrats. If it did, it would likely have a big effect come next year’s election.
The DSCC would not comment on whether or not it plans to pull support; instead it laid blame on the Republicans.
“The choice between our two parties is clear. Mitch McConnell and 40 other Republicans did everything they could to kill the bill and moments after the measure was defeated, McConnell sent a despicable email celebrating the defeat and mocking supporters for even trying,” the group said in a statement.
“DSCC Chair Michael Bennet supported Manchin-Toomey, along with 50 other members of the Democratic Caucus, and if every Democratic senator voted for the measure, the bill would not have had the votes to pass because of Republican obstruction,” it added.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s well-funded group, is spearheading an effort to give out letter grades to lawmakers based on their votes and remarks about guns. It is a sort of anti-gun take on the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) influential rankings. No doubt, the recent amendment, put forth by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, will come into play.
“The only silver lining is that we now know who refuses to stand with the 90% of Americans,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “And in 2014, our ever-expanding coalition of supporters will work to make sure that voters don’t forget.”
“Democrats, who are so quick to blame Republicans for our broken gun laws, could not stand united,” he added. “And Republicans, who are so quick to blame Democrats for not being tough enough on crime, hand criminals a huge victory.”
Democracy for America, (former DNC chair) Howard Dean’s organization, said those Democrats who voted against Toomey-Manchin “better believe the progressives will remember their spinelessness on gun violence prevention come re-election time.”
RED STATE DEMS EXPLAIN
Despite the outrage from national progressive organizations, many of these red-state Democrats may have voted in a way that polls with their constituents back home.
Heitkamp said, “At the end of the day, my duty is to listen to and represent the people of North Dakota.”
And Begich told The New York Times that it’s “dangerous to do any type of policy in an emotional moment. Because human emotions then drive the decision. Everyone’s all worked up.”
Pryor and Baucus did not immediately return requests for comment.
Just four Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, including Sens. Toomey, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Susan Collins of Maine, and John McCain of Arizona.
President Obama called the vote a “shameful day for Washington,” but vowed that the effort is not over.
“If this Congress refuses to listen to the American people…then the real impact is going to have to come from voters,’ he said.