A big day for Bloomberg’s gun-control doctrine, loopholes and all
"I would think he would want to very specifically reach out and say we will give you some real money for your campaign, maybe $500,000 or a million, which would obviously be a great deal for a House race," said Robert Spitzer, author of Politics of Gun Control, and a professor at SUNY Cortland.
Bloomberg's spending, and his high-profile lobbying for gun regulations since well before Sandy Hook, often when the bulk of the national Democratic Party was nowhere to be seen on the issue, has obviously had an emboldening effect on the forces of gun control.
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, have declared their intention to raise $20 million to pour into congressional races, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already announced that it will make guns one of its major issues in 2014.
And President Obama's evolving campaign apparatus has already begun targeting vulnerable gun-rights Republicans.
Chuck Schumer, who made a national name for himself on gun control when he was a congressman from a Brooklyn-based district, thinks Bloomberg can have a positive effect, even before the next election cycle, in the swing districts where it matters most.
"I'm very glad that Mayor Bloomberg is getting heavily involved in the gun issue, because the N.R.A., particularly in parts of the country, is extremely, extremely powerful and has been able to thwart legislation that would increase gun safety," he told me recently.
"The resources that Mayor Bloomberg will add, with ads and calls and things like that, is very helpful, because even though the majority of Americans are for more gun safety measures, the calls you get to offices around the country—particularly in the midwest, the south and the west—are overwhelmingly against, because the N.R.A. is mobilized and the other side is less mobilized, even though it has greater support. So if Bloomberg can mobilize those areas, it will be of great help."
Gun-rights advocates, who are also working to mobilize voters in those areas, seem to be perfectly clear on what it means to be a Bloomberg-backed candidate, in terms of gun control. And Bloomberg's victory in Chicago should make things that much clearer.
But there's still no knowing what Michael Bloomberg intends his spending arm to be when the next election comes around or, for that matter, the next time there's a big fight in Congress over gun control.
Will he limit himself to promoting moderates in each party? Or will he actually do what the N.R.A. has done so effectively, even if that means supporting many more candidates from one party than the other?
Referring to the issue of gun control shortly after the massacre in Newtown, Rep. Esty said, "When you are a public servant, sometimes you chose the issues and sometimes the issues choose you."
For Bloomberg, who will be leaving office next year but is only just getting started as a national force in campaign finance, it's his choice entirely.
NOTE: This article, which was published on the day of the election in Chicago, has been updated to include the result.