NRA launches ad campaign this week targeting red-state Senate Dems

posted at 3:21 pm on February 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Had enough of a break from the 2012 election cycle?  If not, too bad — because 2014′s cycle starts tomorrow.  According to Roll Call’s David Drucker, the NRA will roll out full-page newspaper ads in red states represented by Democrats in the Senate in an effort to stop an assault-weapon ban from proceeding:

The National Rifle Association will launch a print advertising campaign targeting mostly Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014, according to sources close to the group.

On Thursday, full-page ads are scheduled to run in local newspapers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina and West Virginia. They will be supplemented by digital advertising in these states and 10 others, including Alaska, Colorado, Montana, New Hampshire and South Dakota. …

The campaign is estimated to cost north of $375,000, sources said. The NRA’s newspaper ads will run in three states with Democratic incumbents up in 2014: Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. In West Virginia, Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller is retiring, but the race to replace him is competitive.

Well, the West Virginia placement probably has as much to do with Joe Manchin as it does the open seat Rockefeller will leave with his retirement.  Manchin started off by sounding open to an assault-weapons ban, but quickly changed his tune after visiting with constituents who wanted to know what he’d been drinking in Washington.  Manchin shifted his efforts to expanding background checks, an effort that has broad support with voters, if not the NRA’s leadership, especially since we don’t have time to follow up on current background checks, according to Joe Biden.  Consider the West Virginia placement a handy reminder for Manchin to stay in line.

The NRA’s efforts will be bipartisan, too.  They will place ads in Maine, where Susan Collins comes up for re-election in 2014.  Collins is considered a no vote on the AWB already, though, and her newly-elected independent colleague Angus King has already said he opposes it.  So why spend the money?  They’re worried that the background-check expansion will include universal gun registration and/or confiscation:

Expect the ads to hit these points heavily.

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