The country’s largest gun-control organization has begun to ramp up its attack ad spending just weeks out from November’s midterm election.
Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund, the Super PAC for the Bloomberg-backed group, has announced $7.2 Million in digital advertising spending in key battleground states thus far in October. The ads have targeted GOP candidates on their support for gun rights in states like Arizona and Pennsylvania. In contrast, ads run in Michigan and Georgia highlight the abortion debate.
“How extreme is Tudor Dixon? She opposes a woman’s right to make her own health decisions,” the newest ad against the Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate begins. “And wants to ban abortions, even describing a child raped by her uncle as a perfect example of someone who should be forced to give birth.”
“She opposes common-sense gun safety laws that save lives, and would allow dangerous people to carry guns in public with no questions asked, putting our families and law enforcement in danger,” the ad continues. “Tudor Dixon’s extreme agenda puts us all at risk.”
The new series of swing state ad campaigns highlights an escalation of the group’s involvement in the November midterm elections. Before this month, the group had only launched one campaign ad, a $1 million ad buy late last month attempting to tie Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson’s (R.) support for gun rights with rising violent crime rates. The boost in digital ad spending stands to set the group apart from other major gun-control groups’ efforts ahead of election season.
Giffords PAC, for instance, has launched just one digital ad campaign so far. The group spent $2.5 million on ads attacking Colorado Republican and first-time political candidate Joe O’Dea as being beholden to the gun lobby.
The ad campaigns also indicate that Everytown is unsure of its strategy of highlighting the politics of abortion alongside its core mission of advancing gun control. When previously asked about the strategy of mixing the two issues, Everytown directed The Reload to internal research purporting to show that linking the two issues could be a more salient strategy for reaching voters in battleground states.
“Highlighting a gun lobby candidate’s opposition to women’s health care combined with the candidate’s opposition to common-sense gun safety provides a clear illustration of how their dangerous agenda is threatening the health and safety of every community,” the memo reads. “In the current environment, this type of messaging exposes these extreme candidates and offers a framework to begin disqualifying them among voters across the political spectrum in battleground states.”
Despite the internal research and the issue’s prominence in the group’s Michigan ads, the group does not appear to be applying it universally. Ads run thus far targeting Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R.) and Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz (R.) have stayed true to the group’s bread-and-butter issues and did not feature any discussion of abortion access.
“For too many women, home is the last place they feel safe,” an Everytown ad in the Philadelphia media market says. “Because when an abuser’s armed, women are five times more likely to be killed. Mehmet Oz would make it easier for domestic abusers to get guns, even opposing background checks on all gun sales.”
“Kari Lake sided against law enforcement and opposed Red Flag laws that could stop mass shootings before they happen,” the group’s Arizona ad states. “[She] opposed laws giving family members or police a way to disarm people who posed a serious threat, putting communities and law enforcement officers in danger. Kari Lake: She’s a threat we can’t ignore.”
Everytown did not respond to a request for comment on why it has only chosen to highlight abortion issues in certain battleground state ads and not others.
The group has dedicated $1.4 million to Arizona, $2.3 million to Michigan, $2.1 million to Pennsylvania, and $1.4 million to Georgia. That’s in addition to the $1 million spent last month in Wisconsin. The most recent FEC filings show the Super PAC has raised roughly $11.4 million as of September, about double what the NRA’s Super PAC raised in the same period.
The midterm elections are in four weeks.