Arkansas Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor is out with his first ad of the 2014 cycle—hitting back at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attacks on his vote against gun control.
“The mayor of New York City is running ads against me because I oppose President Obama’s gun control legislation,” Pryor says straight to camera in the 30-second ad. “Nothing in the Obama plan would have prevented tragedies like Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, or even Jonesboro,” referring to a 1998 school shooting in Arkansas that killed five.
“I’m committed to finding real solutions to gun violence while protecting our Second Amendment rights,” says Pryor, who was one of four Democrats who voted against a bipartisan background check expansion last month, proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
The Bloomberg-backed group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has run ads against Pryor for his vote against the compromise legislation, with a $350,000 buy last week in Arkansas, featuring an African-American woman saying her friend was killed with a gun purchased due to lax background check laws.
Pryor is one of the most vulnerable Democrats up in 2014, sitting in a red state that voted for Mitt Romney by 24 points, but he’s using the Bloomberg attack as a way to distance himself from both his party and the president.
“I approve this ad because no one from New York or Washington tells me what to do,” Pryor says in the ad’s tag. “I listen to Arkansas.”
Privately, Democrats worry about Bloomberg targeting conservative Democrats in vulnerable seats, worrying it could endanger their Senate majority. Bloomberg’s group has cited polling showing 84% of Arkansas voters support comprehensive background checks, but other polls have shown it’s not the top concern among voters heading into the next election.
Pryor’s ad is the first from any Democratic Senate candidate this cycle, and comes more than 17 months before the November 2014 midterms.
The two-term Democratic senator doesn’t yet have a GOP opponent, but Republicans are pressing freshman Rep. Tom Cotton to join the race.
Kasie Hunt contributed to this report.