Gun control is no longer the losing message for swing district Democrats that it used to be. Gun control groups like Giffords PAC are playing in are suburban battlegrounds, and Democrats in swing districts now pledge to stand up to the NRA.
This is a change of tune from past elections, where the battlegrounds were often focused in places where Democrats did not want to talk about, or side with, gun control. This year, a number of suburban Democrats are picking up this messaging in their ads. “I’ll stand up to the NRA to protect our community,” Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is running in FL-26, says in an emotional ad detailing her father’s death.
Mary Barzee Flores is “quietly building momentum” in her race in FL-25 against incumbent Mario Diaz Balert, according to Peter Scorch in Florida Politics:
…MDB has been taking it on the chin repeatedly over the last few weeks.
Then came a one-two punch of brutal stories from CBSMiami’s Jim Defede. One a broad piece about the intersection of guns and politics in 2018, that showcased the CD 25 race, along with Diaz-Balart’s post-Parkland NRA funding as the centerpiece of the segment. Then an equally devastating piece that basically implied a pay-to-play nexus between Mario’s seat in congress and the foreign lobbying contracts of his brother, former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
“As a longtime gun safety advocate, I am honored to receive the endorsement of Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund. House District 47 is home to Pulse nightclub, and every day we lose 96 people to gun violence. This includes deaths by suicide and accidental deaths,” Eskamani said.
“For the first time in a long time, Florida has a chance to elect a gun safety majority to the state legislature, and it’s time we elect people who are courageous enough to take on the NRA, push for meaningful mental health funding, and be unapologetic when it comes to passing proactive gun safety legislation,” she concluded.
Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, which defines itself as “an LGBTQ organization created after the Pulse shooting to advocate gun policy reform,” threw its support behind Mucarsel-Powell this week.
“Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has such an amazing opportunity to turn the tide in one of the closest races in the country, while fighting for the safety of Americans and Floridians,” said Jason Lindsay, the executive director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, on Monday afternoon. “After losing her father to gun violence, Debbie has been a fierce advocate for common sense gun regulations in this country.
The endorsement comes a week after the campaign released an ad in which the candidate spoke frankly about gun violence and the tragic murder of her father.
Florida’s 26th District, where Mucarsel-Powell is running against Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, is a battleground in next month’s midterms
Almost every list of razor-thin races next month has Florida’s 26th district on it. Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo is one of the most endangered in the nation, he has a top-tier opponent in Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, and in a state where March for Our Lives was launched, gun violence is never far from the front burner.
It played a large role in the candidate’s only English-language debate over last weekend, and unfortunately Curbelo is able to play a trump card of sorts in the form of an endorsement from Everytown, the parent organization for Moms Demand Action and one of the largest gun safety organizations in the country. The good news is that Mucarsel-Powell isn’t allowing that endorsement to provide Curbelo any cover on the issue:
Mucarsel-Powell said that gun control is a very personal issue for her because her father died in Ecuador due to gun violence.
She criticized Curbelo for introducing a so-called “bump stock” bill, to curb the sale of the firearm accessory, that went nowhere in the Republican-controlled house, and said her opponent “has never brought any type of comprehensive gun reform to the floor when he’s had his party in the majority.”
This is a key point, and is at the heart of what makes the Everytown endorsement so disappointing. Gun regulation will not happen in a Republican-controlled house. Curbelo, regardless of what day-late, dollar-short overtures he makes, will be part of a Republican caucus. He will vote for a Republican speaker. Not only is Mucarsel-Powell better on the issue, but she would represent one more Democratic seat toward retaking the House and a majority that cares about advancing legislation on this issue.
The Naples Daily News has a profile on Florida’s 25th Congressional race between Republican incumbent Mario Diaz-Balert and LEAPer Mary Barzee Flores, a former judge. Barzee-Flores is making gun reform a focus of her campaign:
“And why is it the case that 80, 90 percent of Americans believe that we should have universal background checks, but lifetime long politicians just keep refusing to get us there?” she asked.
"The answer to that question is because too many of these folks who’ve been in office are, frankly, beholden to the gun lobby, and are not willing to sit down and have a grown-up, adult discussion about what we’re going to do to tackle the senseless gun violence that our communities face," she said.
What she wants to do is mandate universal background checks, close loopholes, and reinstate the federal assault weapons ban. While Diaz-Balert has tried to modify his position on guns as the tide has turned against him, he’s still been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, and has received high marks from the gun lobby during his career. He’s also, most importantly, part of a Republican party that has no interest in advancing gun regulations as long as they remain a majority in Congress.
While LEAPer Anna Eskamani is getting well-deserved plaudits and recognition for her campaign, her Republican opponent Stockton Reeves is waging one of the most personal, issue-free campaigns in a cycle that’s beginning to be defined by them. This time, it’s an ad attempting to portray her as “a radical.”
Eskamani responded by charging that Reeves’ “entire campaign has been a prolonged distortion of my record of standing up for this community whether it be women’s rights, gun safety, public education, the environment, or health care. Stockton is everything wrong with politics today.
“All of this is not only insulting to me, but it’s also insulting to the voters of House District 47,” she added. “There is too much at stake on November 6th for this race to come down to such lame, tired, and untrue attacks.”