The political action committee created by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband to reduce gun violence will pump money into seven Senate contests and four House races this year.
“We need leaders who are ready to shatter the tired myth that you can’t be both pro-gun rights and pro-gun violence prevention,” Giffords’ husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, said Tuesday in announcing the group’s plans.
Americans for Responsible Solutions plans to back one Senate Republican so far – Maine Sen. Susan Collins, one of just four Republicans in the Senate who voted last year to expand background checks for gun purchasers. The measure failed to pass the Senate.
The super PAC will support five Democratic incumbents in competitive Senate races: Sens. Al Franken in Minnesota, Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Jeanne Shaheen in New Hamphire, and Mark Udall in Colorado. It also backs Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who is running unopposed in his Senate primary.
In House races, the PAC will aid Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., New Hampshire Democratic Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster and Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz. Barber, a former Giffords’ aide, now holds her old seat in Congress.
Giffords resigned from the House in 2012. She was shot in the head on Jan. 8, 2011, during a shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six people and wounded 13, including Barber.
Pia Carusone, the PAC’s senior adviser, said the group does not have a budget for its spending in this year’s election. It has reported raising $14.5 million through the end of March, and she said it will exceed its initial $20 million fundraising goal.
She said the group may get involved in other races as the November election draws closer. In its first round of targets, the organization steered clear of Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, two vulnerable Democratic incumbents who bucked their party last year to oppose the background-check measure.
Carusone said the Republican candidates in those Senate races don’t back gun-control. “It’s not part of our DNA … to defeat candidates who would be replaced by people who are worse on this issue,” she said.