“For decades, the NRA has done an admirable job of tracking to minute detail how members of Congress stand on gun bills. We’ve simply decided to do the same,” said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is chaired by Bloomberg and is made up of more than 900 mayors from across the country.
This is Bloomberg’s latest move to establish his organization as a counterweight to the influential NRA and to create legislative momentum on Capitol Hill around President Obama’s proposals to toughen the nation’s gun laws.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns will start airing a 60-second ad on Tuesday featuring Neil Heslin, whose son, Jesse Lewis, was killed in December’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. The group is spending more than $1 million to air the ad on cable news in Washington and on television stations in 10 targeted states, officials said.
The group is targeting Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.).
The group also this week will begin airing a new television ad statewide in Pennsylvania focused on Toomey, who quietly has been negotiating on a compromise on expanding background checks with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). The ad highlights Toomey’s past statements in support of the idea and urges Pennsylvanians to call his office to “demand action” when a background-check bill comes up for a vote in coming days.
The group’s new ratings system would produce a scorecard for senators and representatives that could serve as a guide for voters as well as campaign donors heading into the 2014 midterm elections and in future campaign cycles.
Glaze outlined a sophisticated algorithm that would weigh lawmakers’ votes on gun bills as well as their public statements and other actions to issue overall letter grades.
“Not every member can vote for every bill, but if not, there are other things they can and should be doing, and we will have our eye out for those as well,” Glaze said.
A good grade could reward a vulnerable lawmaker for backing tougher gun laws, the thinking goes, while a poor grade would publicly shame a politician who votes against popular ideas such as universal background checks.