Former Congresswoman Gabbie Giffords was forced to leave Congress after she was shot by a deranged man in Tucson. Now she’s on a multi-state tour aimed at chastising members of Congress who voted against gun control.
“Our intention is not to chastise people,” Giffords aide Pia Carusone told Politico, but rather to “draw attention to the leadership that’s needed on this issue.”
That sounds like a distinction without a difference. How can the visit be seen as anything other than an attempt to undermine Heitkamp’s opposition to gun control?
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords couldn’t get Washington to heed her call for tighter background checks on gun buyers, so she’s taking her case directly to the states of several senators to pressure them to switch their votes.
Giffords, who hasn’t ruled out taking target practice on the tour, announced Tuesday morning that she and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, will be taking new polling data to Nevada, Alaska, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Maine and New Hampshire to illustrate their argument that lawmakers who support 2nd Amendment gun rights will prosper – not suffer – if they vote for stricter background-check measures, too.
The tour is part of a larger effort to revive stalled background-check legislation, which failed to meet a 60-vote threshold in the Senate in April. The Senate defeated the original background-check amendment with 54 votes in favor and 46 opposed, though the true tally was 55-45 before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed his position for procedural reasons. Vice President Joe Biden said last week that at least five senators are ready to switch their votes if given a second chance.
Giffords is taking a somewhat less confrontational approach to the issue than New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has been working to cut off campaign finances to Democrats who voted against gun control, but this is still bad news for North Dakota Democrats.
Giffords’s visit isn’t likely to change many minds in North Dakota when it comes to guns, and given that it isn’t likely to sway Heitkamp’s vote. But the more attention high-profile gun control proponents give Heitkamp and her vote the more it’s going to hurt North Dakota Democrats given their dependence on out-of-state contributions.
Heitkamp won’t be hurt much by this issue – her constituents love guns, and she’s not up again until 2016 anyway – but her party stands to lose. In the 2012 cycle, the North Dakota Democrat party received nearly 74% of their campaign contributions from out-of-state:
With figures like Giffords and Bloomberg leading the charge, and with Democrats already facing a tough midterm cycle in 2014, how willing are the national liberals with deep pockets going to be to send money to Heitkamp and her state party to help Democrats here?
It will be very interesting to see just what sort of a reception Giffords gets from Heitkamp and North Dakota Democrats when she visits.