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Friday, May 10, 2013

Ayotte background check vote sparks NH ad war

Ironically, the gun lobby is being outgunned.

Washington Post: …Ads in the state are focused on Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), the only senator from the Northeast to vote against expanded background checks. Gun-control groups hope to turn her vote into a political liability; gun-rights advocates aim to prove that it isn’t one.

American Future Fund, a conservative nonprofit, is up Friday with a $250,000 ad buy supporting Ayotte. That dwarfs the $25,000 buy from the National Rifle Association. But it pales in comparison to the ad buy from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is estimated to be larger than $600,000. (The group says only that the two-week buy is in the six figures but has not disputed that estimate.) The ads are running during Red Sox games, an expensive time. Americans for Responsible Solutions, the pro-gun control group founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, also has a $350,000 radio buy up in New Hampshire and four other states. The group has raised $11 million in the past four months and is likely to spend more in New Hampshire.
Ayotte isn’t up for reelection until 2016, so the ads aren’t focused on electoral politics directly. Instead, they’re seeking to influence her vote when the issue comes up again. Ayotte’s favorables have been in a tailspin after the vote and gun safety advocates see her as a likely defector in the next round. The ads from them are downward pressure meant to keep her numbers low by keeping voters’ disappointment with her fresh in their minds.

Which may explain the lower figures for gun lobby ads. They want to shore up support, but Ayotte is taking such a beating that they don’t want to make her seem like a no-guns-laws-ever fanatic. It’s kind of a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation — you can’t defend her without reminding everyone why they got so mad at her in the first place. The best they can do is offer cautious support and hope this whole thing blows over.

Unless Ayotte is politically suicidal, that may not be enough.

[photo by schmilblick]

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