Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Independence USA super PAC is spending $150,000 in ads in an effort to oust pro-gun Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.
Sheriff Clarke, who has made a name for himself over the past several years as a prominent Second Amendment advocate, is running against Milwaukee police Lt. Chris Moews in a Democratic primary Tuesday in a bid for a fourth term in office.
“I trust the voters. The voters can’t be bought,” Sheriff Clarke said in response to the ads, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
He has sparred with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett over the issue and made a name for himself in early 2013 in a radio ad encouraging Milwaukee residents to arm themselves for self-protection.
Mr. Bloomberg announced this year that he planned to spend up to $50 million to elect members who support his gun control agenda, but the issue isn’t really playing an outsized role in any of the most closely watched races nationally.
This cycle, Independence USA has spent more than $2.2 million boosting the candidacy of Rep. Robin L. Kelly in a Democratic primary in Illinois and about $730,000 supporting Sen. Cory A. Booker.
Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, told The Wall Street Journal that the former mayor thought Milwaukee would be an opportunity to influence law enforcement at the local level.
“The issue of guns is one that [Mr. Bloomberg] cares an awful lot about and there’s a very clear contrast on that issue in this race,” Mr. Wolfson said.
The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm has sent out appeals on Mr. Clarke’s behalf. The winner of the Tuesday primary is likely to win the November general election because independent Angela Walker is the only other candidate on the ballot.
Mr. Bloomberg has a mixed record in supporting political candidates and causes across the country.
In November, Colorado voters rejected a statewide income tax hike backed by Mr. Bloomberg to the tune of $1 million just months after he failed to save two Democratic state senators from losing recall elections, largely because of their support of gun control.
He fared better in Virginia, where he contributed nearly $2 million to help elect Democrat Terry McAuliffe as governor.
He made the $50 million proclamation in April when he announced that his Mayors Against Illegal Guns group was partnering with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to form a new umbrella group called Everytown for Gun Safety.