While anti-gun safety groups like the NRA are mostly contributing to PACs and campaigns, gun safety organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety are spending big on digital ad campaigns in competitive districts. Because they spend through their national page, we can’t see their exact spending numbers on Virginia-specific ads, but our best approximation has them as last week’s top Facebook spender in Virginia.
We haven’t found any recent electoral digital spending in Virginia from gun advocate groups like the NRA, but they were active during the special session to keep Republican lawmakers in line. Groups like the National Association for Gun Rights ran a series of digital ads to pressure Republican lawmakers like Kirk Cox (HD-66) and Tim Hugo (HD-40) into inaction after the mass shooting in Virginia Beach.
In contrast, many Democratic campaigns are pressing gun safety as a top issue. Cheryl Turpin and Dan Helmer are among the many Democratic candidates who have run ads focused on their support for common-sense gun violence prevention measures.
Helmer, in particular, has used his opponent Tim Hugo’s refusal to support background checks as his main line of attack throughout the election. Helmer’s campaign is currently running ads boosting a Washington Post editorial criticizing Hugo over his inaction, and his campaign has been hitting Hugo on the issue throughout the summer.
Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to reconcile their positions on gun violence prevention with the relatively “moderate” profile they’re attempting to cut in competitive districts.
Sen. Glen Sturtevant (SD-10), in one of the bigger reaches we’ve seen this cycle, tried to claim in an ad that he’s not taking action on gun safety because he just wants to wait until after the election to take a tough vote.