Opponents of gun rights had more than $2 million worth of ammunition on their side in the battle for control of Virginia’s state Senate. They fired blanks.
When the smoke cleared, Virginia Republicans remained in control of the state’s Senate. This was a major defeat for billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, whose Everytown for Gun Safety advocacy group spent $2.2 million in two Senate races in an effort to give Democrats a majority in the chamber.
Bloomberg’s lobbying group entered Virginia politics in October. The group launched an ad campaign featuring this summer’s tragic murders of two Virginia TV reporters by a disgruntled former co-worker.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a gun rights opponent, had also made stronger gun control a centerpiece of the party’s message to Virginia voters.
“McAuliffe had attempted to turn the 2015 contest into a referendum on gun control, much as his close friend Hillary Clinton is attempting to do in her 2016 Presidential run,” wrote Mike Flynn. “It’s clear voters were not receptive to that message in Virginia.”
The election could serve as a precursor to the 2016 presidential race.
“It remains to be seen if the expensive wasted effort by Bloomberg/McAuliffe in the commonwealth will result in Clinton pulling back on her radical agenda pushing gun confiscation as a key part of her platform,” Flynn wrote.
Virginia “reflects many of the challenges with firearms seen across the United States,” wrote Nicole Hendrix, a professor of criminal justice at Radford University in Radford, Va. “In many ways, how Virginia responds to issues related to firearms, both politically and with regard to policy, may foretell the direction of the country.”