Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund Was Largest Outside Investor in Virginia’s 2019 Elections, Helping Replace NRA-Backed Candidates With Gun Sense Champions in NRA’s Home State
After Virginia Republicans Failed to Act on Gun Safety Following the Deadly Virginia Beach Shooting in May 2019, Virginia Moms Demand Action Activated its Volunteers to Hold Lawmakers Accountable
RICHMOND, Va. — Everytown for Gun Safety and the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, declared victory in Virginia’s 2019 elections as Gun Sense Candidates won across the Commonwealth. The Virginia General Assembly flipped to a gun sense majority, with Democrats now controlling both the state Senate and House of Delegates in the NRA’s home state. The election results tonight are widely viewed as a precursor for the 2020 elections, up and down the ballot.
Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund invested $2.5 million in Virginia’s 2019 elections, spending across 22 of the most competitive Senate and House districts, making Everytown the largest outside spender in Virginia’s 2019 elections.
“In the wake of the Virginia Beach shooting, Republicans sided with the gun lobby over gun safety, and it cost them their jobs and the majority. Only after realizing they made a huge political mistake did Virginia Republicans try to hide their records, but it didn’t fool voters,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Make no mistake about it: This victory will resonate around the country, and should terrify elected officials up and down the ballot who have stood in the way of gun safety.”
“We pledged that if lawmakers didn’t take a vote, we would take their jobs. And tonight, we kept that promise,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “These results prove that the NRA’s agenda is now so toxic that its support is a liability even in its own backyard. We’ll take this momentum into 2020 and turn the gun lobby’s weakness into wins in state and federal races.”
“Tonight, we elected leaders who will do what it takes to keep our families and communities safe,” said Jennifer Herrera, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Moms Demand Action volunteers will stand with our new lawmakers every step of the way, and make sure that come January, the Commonwealth finally passes the common-sense gun laws we need.”
“Gun safety was a top issue for Virginia voters and Everytown’s record-setting investment was instrumental in helping Democratic candidates communicate on it bolder than ever before,” said Jessica Post, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. “Everytown and Moms Demand Action were exceptional partners in the fight for Virginia’s General Assembly and we look forward to continuing to work with them to flip even more chambers in 2020.”
This victory for gun safety came just months after the Republican-controlled General Assembly failed to take action during a special session in the wake of the deadly Virginia Beach shooting, ending it after just 90 minutes without any votes on broadly popular measures like background checks on all gun sales or red flag legislation. Public polling and Everytown-conducted voter research both showed gun safety was the top issue for Virginia voters.
Everytown’s $2.5 million investment in Virginia’s elections included (more details here):
- Endorsing 25 candidates across Virginia
- $750,000 in digital ads highlighting Virginia Republican candidate’s opposition to gun safety
- $620,000 in direct mail highlighting Virginia Republican candidates’ opposition to gun safety
- $330,000 to support candidate TV ads advocating for gun safety, including: $100,000 to Missy Cotter Smasal’s campaign in Virginia’s 8th Senate District, $50,000 to Debra Rodman’s campaign for Virginia’s 12th Senate District and $75,000 to John Bell’s campaign in Virginia’s 13th Senate District
- $538,000 in direct contributions, including: $175,000 to the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, $150,000 to the Virginia House Democratic Caucus, $100,000 to Democratic Party of Virginia’s Coordinated Campaign and $113,000 to Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund endorsed candidates
- $270,000 in district by district polling and battleground message testing
Since Virginia’s 2017 elections, the Moms Demand Action chapter in the Commonwealth quadrupled in size. Leading up to the election, Moms Demand Action volunteers spent months talking to voters, knocking on tens of thousands of doors and making more than 100,000 phone calls.