The campaign to “hold accountable” lawmakers who voted against an expanded background check proposal sponsored by Sens. Pat Toomey (D-PA) and Joe Manchin (R-WV) last week has begun.
Leading the charge on this front is Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), a pro-gun control organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
The targets of the first wave of attack ads are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KT) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Both voted against the Manchin-Toomey measure, which would have required criminal background check for all gun sales made via the Internet and at gun shows.
According to ARS, the ads “highlight McConnell and Ayotte’s putting loyalty to the special interest gun lobby in Washington instead of supporting wildly popular sensible policies that would keep their communities safer.”
In particular, the commercial impugning Ayotte accuses her of “going Washington” and ignoring “the will of the people,” citing poll numbers that claim 89 percent New Hampshire residents favored universal background checks.
As for the McConnell ad, it pretty much does the same, citing poll numbers that allegedly showed 82 percent of Kentuckians supporting expanded background checks and arguing he ignored “the will of the people” and put the “Washington special interests ahead of Kentucky…AGAIN.”
Both ads end by asking the listener to call their respective senator and demand change.
“As Gabby said last week, if we can’t keep our communities safer with the congress we have, we will work to change congress,” said ARS Executive Director Pia Carusone in a press release.
“Senator McConnell and Senator Ayotte turned their backs on their constituents at home in order to do the bidding in Washington of the corporate gun lobby,” she continued. “We’re going to make sure their constituents know that, effective immediately.”
Giffords and Kelly formed ARS with a specific goal in mind, to combat the political influence of the mighty National Rifle Association by convincing legislators that they “no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby” if they opt to support gun control.
Though, what’s ironic is that Giffords and Kelly are employing the same intimidation tactics that the NRA uses. Essentially, giving politicians and ultimatum: support our cause or you’re going to be the target of an attack ad designed to galvanize your constituents to vote against you. So, in a sense, ARS is actually angling to become the pro-gun control version of the NRA.
From a purely strategic standpoint, that’s not a bad objective to have. However, one can certainly tell that ARS is still new to the political arena. For example, why the heck would they run an attack ad against Sen. Ayotte three years before she has to run again to hold her seat? That’s right, she’s not up for re-election until 2016. What are the odds that someone remembers one of these ads 3 months from now; let alone 3 years?
Also, with respect to McConnell, while he is running for re-election in 2014, there is no formidable challenger yet. So, why run ads at a time when there’s no Democratic opponent?
Just having people call senators to complain about the way they voted does nothing to motivate them politically. You have to threaten their job. And you have to do it at a time when people are paying close attention to politics and when they can do something about it, i.e. elections season. The NRA knows this. So does anyone with common sense.
Oh well. As far as I’m concerned, ARS can continue to waste its money running these pointless ads.