RSS
Why Mike Bloomberg's gun control ads backfired
For Southern senators, being attacked by hizzoner is something to brag about
 
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the North American Board Meeting for the Union for Reform Judaism on May 31.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the North American Board Meeting for the Union for Reform Judaism on May 31. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg has never been fond of firearms and after Newtown, the outgoing New York City mayor threw what remains of his national political clout behind gun-control measures.

Now, Mayor Bloomberg is a very bright guy, but no one is ever going to accuse him of modesty. And he's been extremely vocal about gun control. Bloomberg put $12 million behind an ad buy pushing for tighter regulations. Bloomberg's ads have run in 13 states and target both Democratic and Republican senators who Bloomberg apparently believes did not listen to their constituents during the gun votes.

The problem? The people Bloomberg is attacking have begun wearing his condemnation as a badge of honor. On Friday, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas — one of the Democrats the New York City mayor has been targeting with his gun control ads — launched an ad in which he brags about Bloomberg's condemnation. Yes, that's right. The fact that Mike Bloomberg does not like Mark Pryor is something that Mark Pryor believes makes him more electable.

Bloomberg dramatically overestimates how popular or influential he is outside of the confines of New York City, and his arrogance has backfired. Pryor's new ad — and expect similar ads or rhetoric from the other senators (from both parties) that Bloomberg has been firebombing with anti-gun ads — basks in Bloomberg's ire: "The mayor of New York City is running ads again me, because I oppose President Obama's gun-control legislation. ... I'm Mark Pryor. And I approve this message because no one from New York or Washington tells me what to do. I listen to Arkansas."

I do not know who advises Mayor Bloomberg, but any political hack who has spent even one day in the South could have told him that the worst thing he could do for gun control is launch a national campaign of preachy anti-gun ads.

These senators probably thought a hell of a lot longer about the consequences of their gun control vote than the mayor did. The fact that they chose to vote against the measures should probably have suggested that the mayor might have been misreading the political tea leaves of North Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Instead, he launched a national ad campaign that everyone knows he is paying for. I do not know if reasonable gun control measures ever really had a chance in any of the aforementioned three states, but if they did, those chances took a hit the minute the arrogant know-it-all from New York City jumped into the fray.

Michael Bloomberg is so pleased with the sound of Michael Bloomberg's own voice that he simply cannot help but tell voters what to do, even when doing so harms the causes he supports.

 
Jeb Golinkin is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and writes about U.S. politics and policy for TheWeek.com. From 2008 to 2011, he served as an editor and reporter for Frum Forum/New Majority. Email him at jgolinkin@gmail.com.

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week