Everytown for Gun Safety, a national group pushing for additional gun regulation, is putting forward $100,000 for digital ads supporting Democratic candidates in three high-profile Senate races.
The digital campaign will target open contests in Senate Districts 9, 20 and 39. Democrats are seeking seats currently under GOP control in all three districts.
The money will come from Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund. The group is partnering on those ads with the progressive organization Florida Watch.
In addition, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is donating $50,000 to the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and another $10,000 to the Florida Democratic Party.
The races in SD 9 and 39 are two of the highest-profile contests in the state. Democrats are likely stronger there than in SD 20, where Republican Danny Burgess is favored over Democratic challenger Kathy Lewis.
In SD 9, Democrat Patricia Sigman is battling Republican Jason Brodeur to replace term-limited Sen. David Simmons. In SD 39, Democratic Rep. Javier Fernández is running against Republican Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez to succeed outgoing GOP Sen. Anitere Flores.
The pro-gun control groups will use the ads to criticize Republicans for stalling on additional gun reforms.
“Our public schools need better funding, support for teachers and a safe environment for our kids. But Ana Maria Rodriguez believes schools need guns and bullets, not books or raises for teachers,” says one ad targeting Rodriguez in SD 39.
“Ana Maria Rodriguez has to go.”
The ad targets Rodriguez over a vote allowing teachers to be armed in schools if they voluntarily choose to go through the state’s extensive Guardian training. While the ad claims Rodriguez voted against teacher pay, she did approve legislation during the 2020 Session raising teachers’ salaries.
Last year, Democrats called for a Special Session to deal with the issue of gun violence after a spate of high-profile shootings across the country. Those calls failed, with the GOP-controlled Legislature declining to return to Tallahassee.
Democrats again pushed for additional gun regulations ahead of the 2020 Legislative Session. None of those measures made much progress.
The state did approve some increased gun regulation following the 2018 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. But Democrats and pro-gun control groups argue more needs to be done.
“We have made incredible progress on gun safety in Florida in the past few years, but we have so much more to do,” said Gay Valimont, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action.
“We’ve spent years urging the legislature to pass legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales, and now it’s time to elect lawmakers who will make it a priority. We’re throwing our full support behind our gun sense champions and will work tirelessly to elect them.”
Should Democrats win all three of these open Senate seats, that would only put them at a 20-20 tie with Republicans in the Senate. That’s assuming no Democratic incumbents lose on Nov. 3. The House will almost certainly still be under GOP control, putting a major roadblock in front of any increased action on the gun issue.
Everytown isn’t just pouring money into campaign ads and state Democratic groups. Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is also formally endorsing six Democratic Senate candidates.
The organization is backing the three candidates in the races where the new ads will run: Sigman in SD 9, Lewis in SD 20 and Fernández in SD 39. The group is also backing Loranne Ausley in Senate District 3, Shevrin Jones in Senate District 35 and incumbent Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez in Senate District 37.