Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gabby Giffords: Working to Keep the House Red

As you may remember, former Democratic representative Gabby Giffords and her husband started an ambiguously named PAC called Americans for Responsible Solutions to push for gun control legislation.

Well, Americans for Responsible Solutions is now working to keep the House in Republican hands:
The Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC (ARS PAC) is releasing a new ad in support of Fitzpatrick as well as a poll that shows him favored to win re-election.
… The group endorsed Fitzpatrick back in June and had previously indicated it would mobilize to support those candidates it backed.
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick isn’t afraid to lead,” the narrator of the commercial asserts. “He’s working with Democrats and Republicans to keep us safe from gun violence.”
The thirty-second spot praises Fitzpatrick for authoring a bill to keep guns out of the hands of the mental ill (H.R. 329) as well as co-sponsoring a bill an act to prevent stalkers and domestic abusers from purchasing firearms (H.R. 1565).
“We can get it right,” the narrator concludes. “It just takes a leader. Like Mike Fitzpatrick.”
“We need more bipartisan leaders like Mike Fitzpatrick in Congress – leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up to powerful special interests and to stand up for commonsense solutions to gun violence,” said Hayley Zachary, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. ”By reaching across the aisle to cosponsor legislation to close loopholes on gun sales, Congressman Fitzpatrick was not only showing some leadership, but reflecting the reasonable views of his constituents.”
ARS PAC also explained that this is a six-figure buy that will air in the Philadelphia TV market on broadcast and cable for at least the next two weeks.
Although it is viewed as a safe seat for Fitzpatrick this cycle, PA-08, a suburban district based in Bucks County outside of Philadelphia (where I grew up), is still considered the prototypical swing district. 

As of the last quarterly filing, Mike Fitzpatrick had raised almost 2.5 times as much money this cycle as his Democratic challenger, Kevin Strouse. He also had seven times as much cash on hand. Mike Fitzpatrick clearly does not need their help.

Moreover, he does not even deserve it. Mike Fitzpatrick can co-sponsor as many bills as he'd like, but there is really only one vote that matters for advancing gun control legislation: the vote for Speaker of the House. And on that, he fails.

A single issue group like Americans for Responsible Solutions should not be intervening in favor of a well-funded incumbent against a challenger who will, by basis of party affiliation alone, be more favorable to the group's agenda. If gun control is not a salient contrast between the candidates, then ARS should be sitting out.

This reminds me of how Big Green groups like the League of Conservation Voters and the Environmental Defense Fund and LGBTQ advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign always endorse Republican senator Susan Collins (R-ME) over Democratic challengers who are more pro-environment and pro-LGBTQ rights. They simply want to have a token Republican so that they can tout their bipartisanship, not matter how little it actually gets them.

That Giffords's group would be backing a Republicans appears less surprising as well when you remember that Giffords was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and was one of the most conservative Democrats in the caucus.

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