The largest gun-control group in the country just launched an ad in Georgia where its top priority takes a back seat.
Everytown for Gun Safety’s super PAC kicked off a new $1.4 million media campaign in Georgia with an attack ad against Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker. Despite the group’s core mission of gun control, the ad dedicates as much time to the issue of abortion as it does to guns.
“Just how extreme is Herschel Walker?” the ad begins. “He opposes a woman’s right to make her own health decisions. He wants to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest or to save a mother’s life.”
“And he opposes common-sense gun safety laws that save lives,” the ad continues. “Siding against law enforcement, he’d even make it easier for dangerous people to carry guns in public with no questions asked.”
The strategy marks a major departure from the one the group has taken against incumbent Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R.). The group launched a $1 million ad campaign late last month attempting to tie the senator’s support for gun rights with rising violent crime rates. The messaging shift suggests Everytown is not confident gun control will be a decisive issue for voters in the competitive southern state.
When asked about the strategy of mixing abortion with gun control, Everytown directed The Reload to internal research purporting to show that linking the two issues could motivate 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 ad’s leading focus on abortion access, the group announced its release alongside an internal poll showing support for gun control among the Georgia electorate. Everytown said Georgia voters would be motivated to support candidates willing to pass stricter gun laws in the upcoming election.
“As our polling indicates, the overwhelming majority of Georgia voters are looking for candidates who will stand up for public safety and fight for common-sense gun safety laws,” John Feinblatt, head of the Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund, said in a statement. “Everytown’s investment will ensure Georgia voters know the truth: by standing in the way of gun violence prevention laws, extremists Herschel Walker and Brian Kemp are a threat to the safety of our families and communities.”
The two Georgia candidates are on opposite sides of the gun issue. The NRA has endorsed Walker. His opponent, incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D.), has an “F” rating from the gun-rights group and voted for the first major federal gun control bill to become law in decades. He is also a cosponsor of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s “assault-weapon” ban bill.
A September Monmouth University poll found Georgia voters trust Walker more than Warnock on the issue of gun control by four points. The RealClearPolitics polling average currently has Walker trailing Warnock in the race by 3.8 points.
Guns have played a significant role in the state’s other major election race. This April, Governor Brian Kemp (R.) fulfilled a campaign promise by signing a bill to make Georgia the 25th state to adopt permitless gun carry. Stacey Abrams, Kemp’s challenger, attacked him over the policy by falsely suggesting it makes it easier for criminals to carry guns. Currently, Kemp enjoys a 6.4-point lead in the RCP average over Abrams.
Everytown has not yet released its planned ad against Kemp.