Backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has launched a $350,000 ad campaign smearing New York Senator Mark Pryor (D, Arkansas) for voting against the federal background check bill.
The advertisement campaign will last for two weeks. It features Angela Bradford-Barnes, a former Democratic staffer whose boss was killed by gunfire while on the job. Bradford-Barnes says in the commercial, "When my dear, innocent friend was shot to death, I didn't blame guns. I blamed a system that makes it so terribly easy for criminals or the dangerous mentally ill to buy guns. That's why I was so disappointed when Mark Pryor voted against comprehensive background checks. On that vote, he let us down. Tell Mark Pryor to take another look at background checks because we're tired of being disappointed."
The advertising campaign could have a major impact on Sen. Pryor’s reelection chances. Arkansas is generally a pro-gun state, so Pryor responded to his constituents by crossing party lines and voting in favor of gun rights. That may have appeased Arkansas gun owners, but it’s left other Democrats and gun control advocates with a sour taste.
Demand Action, an MAIG-backed group, points to polling that states that 84 percent of Arkansas citizens favor universal background checks.
Pryor’s history on gun control bills might not be enough to save him. Pryor did vote in favor of an assault weapons ban, but that bill didn’t carry nearly as much weight as the proposed universal background check bill.
If the ad campaign successfully dethrones Pryor, that will send a powerful message to whomever steps up to take his place: you’re either with the gun control movement, or you’re against it.
With MAIG rallying against Pryor, the Democratic senator will have a tough time when the 2014 race rolls around. He may have to reverse his stance on background checks or face well-funded ad campaigns slamming Pryor’s voting history.