Gun safety group Everytown launches $250K digital ad campaign in Pa. | Thursday Morning Coffee

February 6, 2020 7:16 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Katie Leslie has a simple message for state lawmakers who might be inclined to scoff at the gun violence reduction measures that Gov. Tom Wolf, with support from his Democratic allies in the General Assembly, rolled out during his annual budget address earlier this week:

Do your jobs — and send the bills, which include long-awaited passage of a ‘Red Flag’ law to Wolf’s desk — or they’ll be coming for you at the ballot box in November.

And lest you think that’s an empty threat, Leslie, of Pittsburgh, and an organizer with the gun violence reduction group Moms Demand Action, is bringing back-up: $250,000 in digital ads.

Everytown for Gun Safetythe advocacy group that was initially funded by current Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, will launch the campaign this week with an initial $50,000 spend in Pennsylvania, a key 2020 battleground state, according to a statement exclusively obtained by The Capital-Star. It’s part of a much broader plan to spend $60 million in the 2020 elections nationwide,

“Our belief is to let legislators know their jobs are not safe unless they act,” Leslie, a nurse, and the state elections lead for Moms Demand, said in a phone interview on Thursday. “We know there are lawmakers who know how to do their jobs. They did their jobs when they passed [a law taking guns from domestic abusers]. They’re currently putting politics before people’s lives.”

Republicans in the state House bottled up a red flag proposal last year, despite sponsorship from GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate, and studies showing they’re proven to reduce suicide rates. Polling data continues to to show broad public support for such changes as expanded background checks.

(Katie Leslie (L) with Moms Demand founder Shannon Watts (R) – photo courtesy of Katie Leslie)

In a statement, Everytown said the ads were aimed at suburban women and African-American women voters. The first spot, called Pennsylvania on Notice,” is a direct pitch to a potent slice of the electorate that is the most engaged on the issue.

“Though the Legislature has failed to adopt widely popular, lifesaving measures like extreme risk legislation – also known as a red flag legislation, Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro have both been champions of gun violence prevention,” the statement reads. “Gov. Wolf has used his executive power to launch nearly two dozen gun safety initiatives, including proactive programs to prevent city gun violence before it happens and measures to combat gun-involved domestic violence. Attorney General Shapiro has been a leader on regulating ghost guns – untraceable, undetectable do-it-yourself guns that allow people who would fail a background check to acquire firearms anyways.”

In conjunction with the digital buy, Everytown also released new polling data, conducted by  Global Strategy Group, showing broad-based support for gun violence reduction measures in the Keystone State.

The research found that “voters in Pennsylvania support stronger gun safety laws by a 9:1 margin and 78 percent of voters, including 82 percent of voters who support stronger gun laws, consider a candidate’s position on guns ‘very important’ to their vote in 2020,” Everytown said in its statement.

For Leslie, a former Virginian who lived through the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, saw her own child in the eyes of the Sandy Hook victims, and was spurred to get involved after Parkland, and then watched tragedy unfold at Tree of Life, the data is self-evident.

And so is the response from Harrisburg.

“If they want to keep their jobs, they’re going to do the right thing,” she said.

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

Our Stuff.
Associate Editor Cassie Miller 
leads our coverage this morning, as she takes a look at the Wolf administration’s latest pitch for a State Police users’ fee. It’s this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

 And ‘Viva la Republica Dominicana!’ The Capitol celebrated Dominican IndependenceMiller also writes.

U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., you will not be surprised to learn, split on the Trump impeachment conviction voteWashington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender has the details.

Amid objections, the Pa. Senate GOP bottled up a Bucks lawmaker’s resolution honoring Pa.’s LGBTQ youth, Elizabeth Hardison reports. A Pa. Senate committee also gave the green light to sheltered bike lanes, Hardison writes.

In a one-sided state House hearing, coal workers laid out dire stakes for a cap-and-trade measureStephen Caruso writes.

‘We’re making progress’ but work remains to educate Black Pa. residents about HIV/AIDS, lawmakers and public health advocates said Wednesday.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune: Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg brought his campaign to Philadelphia — with some help from former Mayor Michael Nutter.

On our Commentary Page, Zack Shamberg, of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, says Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers need to shore up Medicaid funding in the 2020-21 budget. And opinion regular Mark O’Keefe wonders if Pa. lawmakers will ever move the date of the state’s very, very late presidential primary.  

New Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw (Photo via The Philadelphia Tribune)

Philly’s incoming police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, is ‘unapologetic’ and ‘unconventional,’ the Inquirer writes.
A reassigned Allegheny County judge referred to a Black defendant as ‘Aunt Jemima,’ the Post-Gazette reports.
PennLive takes you inside the Mike Pence rally in suburban Harrisburg on Wednesday night.
Writing for the Morning Call, a Muhlenberg College economics professor looks at which politicians will benefit from impeachment.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM looks at how impeachment affected the votes of Philly’s independent voters.
In Pa. jails, women are paying more than twice what they’d pay for tampons if they were on the outside, the PA Post reports. 
explains why America’s organic farmers didn’t feel the pinch of the Trump trade war.
A $760 billion infrastructure plan floated by U.S. House Democrats could be a ‘sea change’ for America’s public schools, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
1 p.m, Media Center: Auditor General Eugene DePasquale 
releases an audit of the Pa. Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. No word on whether Libre will be there — but we’re not ruling anything out.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
keeps his budget show on the road today with an 11:15 a.m. stop at Riverside High School in Taylor, Pa., and a 1:15 p.m. appearance at Springfield High School, in Springfield, Pa.

What Goes On.
Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse 
holds a 6 p.m. reception at Millworks in Midtown Harrisburg. Admission runs $250 to $1,000.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an old favorite from Sam Smith. It’s ‘Stay With Me.

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
beat Chicago 2-1 in overtime in an Original Six match-up on Wednesday night.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

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