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EDITORIAL: Gunning for Democrats

The risks of calling in an out-of-town gunslinger

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Be careful what you wish for, the saying goes, because you might get it. Until recently, gun-fearing Senate Democrats were positively giddy about getting access to the deep pockets of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund. They didn't understand that zealots tend to obsess on individual issues, and miss the big picture. That's bad news for the red-state Democrats in Hizzoner's gun sights for voting against the gun-control compromise.

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid huddled recently with Mr. Bloomberg to dissuade him from broadcasting attack ads against two of the most endangered 2014 Democratic incumbents, Mark L. Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska. Mr. Reid must keep these otherwise-loyal lieutenants in the Senate because they usually provide critical votes for such Democratic causes as Obamacare, even though they represent states that are red, Republican and growing more that way. If Mr. Pryor and Mr. Begich lose next year, the Republicans would be just four races short of a majority.

Mr. Bloomberg's gun-control group, according to Politico, the Capitol Hill daily, is moving 60 field organizers into a dozen states where senators of both parties voted against the "background check" bill written by Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a Democrat, and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, a Republican. Mr. Bloomberg wants to intimidate them to switch their votes before Mr. Reid brings up the bill again, perhaps as early as next month.

Two other Democrats are in the gun sights of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota was elected in November and won't face voters again until 2018, and would incur no immediate risk by voting yes on legislation that could be a precursor to national gun registration. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana retires next year and won't face voters again. The anti-gun group wants to send a shot across the bow, warning former Gov. Brian Schweitzer and others considering a run for the seat.

Instead of targeting gun-rights Democrats, Senate leaders prefer that Mr. Bloomberg would put his cash in a positive campaign for imperiled red-state Democrats who voted in favor of gun control, including Sens. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. That illustrates the risk in sending for an out-of-town gunslinger like Mr. Bloomberg to advance the agenda. His badly aimed fire could depress Democratic turnout in key races, doing more harm than good.

The Washington Times

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