Anti-gun violence group Everytown launches $1.4M campaign to flip the Legislature | Monday Morning Coffee

September 21, 2020 7:05 am

(Image courtesy Everytown for Gun Safety)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Efforts to combat gun violence in Pennsylvania’s cities and towns have been pushed to the back of the headlines by the pandemic, the presidential campaign, and the anti-racism and pro-police reform protests still unfolding nationwide.

But one activist group wants to make sure voters remember the Legislature’s inaction on the issue as they start casting their ballots this voting season.

Today, the political wing of the anti-gun violence group Everytown for Gun Safety launches a $1.4 million digital advertising and direct mail campaign targeting a dozen state House seats, mostly in suburban Philadelphia, and a quartet of Senate seats, to flip the General Assembly to a “gun sense majority.”

While guns and ammo have been flying off the shelves during the pandemic, Pennsylvania lawmakers have left gun violence prevention measures largely untouched.

Those proposals left on the shelf notably included a ‘red flag law,’ that would allow loved ones and law enforcement to petition a court to seize someone’s weapons if they pose an immediate threat to themselves or others.

Lawmakers did, however, manage to approve a bill exempting guns from restrictions imposed during an emergency declaration.

Pennsylvania’s first major, anti-gun violence measure in years, one keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, took effect in 2019. Also that year, in the wake of a rash of gun violence in Philadelphia, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order aimed at reducing gun violence in the state.

“For years now, Republican leaders in Pennsylvania’s Legislature have chosen to put gun lobby interests ahead of public safety, but now the choice lies with the people,” John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement obtained by the Capital-Star. “Everytown is going all out to help voters hold gun lobby lawmakers accountable for their refusal to pass common sense laws to keep our families safe.”

Everytown’s political wing first announced the planned spend back in July, as it looked to help legislative Democrats flip seats in the increasingly blue Philadelphia suburbs, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported at the time.

Democrats need to pick up nine seats in November to flip the 203-member state House, which has been in Republican hands off and on for more than two decades.

Democrats briefly held a majority from 2006-2010 before getting overcome by that year’s Tea Party wave. In 2018, Democrats flipped 14 seats in the Philadelphia suburbs, the Inquirer reported, as part of a two-cycle strategy to regain the majority. Party activists believe they have their best shot in a decade this fall at regaining the majority.

(Image via Everytown for Gun Safety)

In large part, the Everytown campaign that starts today keeps the focus on the Philadelphia suburbs, with  six GOP seats, three belonging to retiring lawmakers, in the four-county area being targeted.

Three currently Republican seats in Allegheny County, including the vacant 28th District seat formerly held by ex-House Speaker Mike Turzai, are in the bunch. Ditto for the Dauphin County-based 105th and 106th Districts respectively held by Reps. Andrew Lewis and Tom Mehaffie. In the Poconos, GOP Rep Rosemary Brown’s 189th District seat rounds out the pack.

In the Senate, the Dauphin County-based 15th District seat now held by freshman GOP Sen. John DiSanto, is in Everytown’s crosshairs.

Ditto for the Lancaster County-based 13th District seat now held by GOP Sen. Scott Martin, and the Erie-based 49th District seat held by Republican Sen. Dan Laughlin. In Allegheny County’s 37th DistrictEverytown is going to bat for freshman Democratic Sen. Pam Iovino, who’s running for a full, four-year term.

(Screen Capture)

You’ve gotten a flavor above for the print broadsides that are going out to voters in those targeted districts. But the campaign also includes a pair of digital spots taking lawmakers to task for their inaction during the two-year legislative session that wraps up in November.

You can watch those spots “Safer,” and “Failed Us,” by clicking on their respective links. In a statement, Everytown said its banking on polling data showing ongoing strong public support for such issues as mandatory background checks on all gun sales, to help win the argument.

“We’re making sure every Pennsylvanian knows where candidates stand on gun safety because lives are on the line,” Katie Leslie, a volunteer with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action, an Everytown affiliate group, said in a statement. “We’ve seen the dangerous bills the legislature has pushed instead of strengthening our gun laws, and we’ve had enough. We’re ready to elect a gun sense majority in Pennsylvania.”

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
It’s voting season in Pennsylvania. From our staff, here’s everything you need to know about casting your ballot — by mail, or in person — this fall.

In this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket, Cassie Miller takes a deep dive into data plumbing the depths of America’s rapidly diminishing prestige among our overseas allies.

Pro-transgender rights candidates are running for office in red districts this year. Can they win? Stephen Caruso takes up the question.

Caruso also caught up with Democratic 10th Congressional District candidate Eugene DePasquale as he toured businesses in Midtown Harrisburg over the weekend. Merchants had lots on their minds.

On Friday, we said goodbye to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at age 87, from complications of pancreatic cancer. Here’s how Pennsylvania politicians reacted to the news.

In Philadelphia, a task force of regional business leaders rolled out its plan to help Black- and Brown-owned businesses recover from the pandemic, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Dick Polman flashes back to President Donald Trump’s Philadelphia town hall last week, where he was rebuked by a Black academic for an overly flip response to a question about how he intends to help people with pre-existing conditions. And in a plan to create judicial districts, state Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomerysees Trumpism at work in the Keystone State.

En la Estrella-CapitalSiguiendo los casos de COVID del Senado, de Pa. Capitol Los tours del Capitolio están suspendidos, dice el líder máximo. Y en Filadelfia, el clero de color advierte que los votantes de color enfrentarán desafíos para emitir sus votos en noviembre.

The Inquirer
 talks to experts, asking them what we should expect from the next six months of life during the pandemic.
Hundreds of Trump supporters paraded down Route 30 in southwestern Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon, the Tribune-Review reports.
PennLive looks at what it’s like to be a special education student during the time of COVID-19.
The Lehigh Valley Mall in suburban Allentown has reopened the day after a shooting there panicked shoppers and workers, the Morning Call reports.
DUI enforcement sweep across NEPA over the weekend resulted in many arrests, the Citizens-Voice reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:


View this post on Instagram


Pretty epic sunrise over Harrisburg this morning ?

A post shared by Michael Yatsko (@yatsko) on

During a speech in Philadelphia on Sunday, Joe Biden called on the U.S. Senate to hold off on nominating a replacement for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election, WHYY-FM reports.
The state Department of Health will offer free COVID-19 tests in State College, as Penn State added 320 cases in a week, WPSU-FM reports.
GoErie talks to local residents about what they’re looking for in a presidential candidate.
Conservative activists gathered in Washington County on Sunday for a ‘PA CPAC’ to talk up President Donald Trump and red meat issues, PoliticsPA reports.
Conservative activists fear missteps as the White House falls all over itself to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s U.S. Supreme Court seat, Politico reports.

What Goes On.
The Senate comes in at 1 p.m. today.
Here’s a look at the day’s Senate committee action:
11:30 a.m., Senate Chamber: Banking & Insurance Committee
12 p.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office: Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee
12:30 p.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office: Aging & Youth Committee
12:45 p.m., Senate Chamber: Local Government Committee
Off the Floor: Appropriations Committee
Off the Floor: Rules & Executive Nominations Committee
Off the Floor: Judiciary Committee

In the House:
2 p.m, G50 Irvis:
 House Democratic Policy Committee

Gov. Tom Wolf 
holds a 10 a.m. newser at a company in Middletown, Dauphin County, to highlight efforts to provide personal protective equipment.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.:
 Breakfast for Sen. Mario Scavello
11:30 a.m.: 
Reception for Sen. Doug Mastriano
6 p.m.: 
Reception for Dauphin County Commissioners Jeff Haste and Mike Pries
Ride the circuit, and give at the max at all three events, and you’re out an only slightly offensive $6,000 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out to Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, who celebrated on Sunday. Congratulations go out this morning to our former Morning Call colleague, Stephanie Sigafoos, who celebrates today. Best wishes all around, folks.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a classic from first-wave Athens, Ga., indie legends Love Tractor. From their self-titled debut record, it’s ‘Sixty Degrees Below.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
lost to the Rays 2-1 on Sunday. The Birds are 4.5 games out of first in the AL East.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.