By Dan Krupnick, Political Director
Gun safety champions swept the nation last night in a historic defeat of the NRA’s top financial beneficiaries in the US House.
Votes are still being counted, but one thing’s already clear: The 2018 midterm elections were a historic victory for gun safety.
Traditionally, candidates would steer clear from the issue of gun violence prevention because it was considered a political taboo. That’s not the case anymore. Last night, Americans voted out 32 NRA-backed incumbents in the US House of Representatives. Even in traditionally conservative strongholds like Kansas and Texas, we saw a wave of new, gun safety champions with “F” ratings from the NRA successfully defeat “A”-rated incumbents.
For the first time ever, the NRA has been outspent by gun safety groups. And in swing districts where gun safety groups, like Giffords ran aggressive ad campaigns—a gun safety champion won.
Meet the top 6 NRA favorites who were defeated by a gun safety champion.
JASON LEWIS | NRA Rating: A
The gun lobby dropped over $1 million to re-elect Jason Lewis—but his time was up. After he supported the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act despite opposition from MN law enforcement, the people of Minnesota’s 2nd District stood up for gun safety by electing Angie Craig.
Giffords contribution: We ran a $1.3 million ads campaign to uncover Lewis’ dangerous record on guns.
PETE SESSIONS | NRA Rating: A+
Gun safety wins—even in Texas. Pete Sessions was one of the House’s top beneficiaries of gun lobby support, and his voting record made it clear. From concealed carry reciprocity to decreasing gun waiting periods, Sessions did what the NRA wanted. But not anymore. Texas voters elected civil rights lawyer and former NFL player Colin Allred to represent the 32nd District.
JOHN CULBERSON | NRA Rating: A+
John Culberson is out! While active shooter drills became routine in his district, he continued to cash checks from the gun lobby. The NRA spent almost $200,000 to get their guy elected, but Texas’s 7th District stood up for the safety of their communities by electing Lizzie Pannill Fletcher.
Giffords contribution: We ran a $1.1 million ads campaign to expose Culberson’s refusal to address gun safety.
BARBARA COMSTOCK | NRA Rating: A
Virginia voters chose gun safety and defeated Barbara Comstock, putting a check on the NRA in their own backyard. Comstock supports allowing concealed carry firearms inside establishments that serve alcohol and blocking law enforcement from accessing handgun permit records. That won’t fly anymore. Now it’s Jennifer Wexton’s turn to fight for gun safety, not the gun lobby.
Giffords contribution: We ran a $1 million ads campaign that helped diminish Comstock’s favorability by as much as 10 points, and increase Wexton’s by 3 points.
MIKE COFFMAN | NRA Rating: A
Colorado’s 6th District includes Aurora, which saw a deadly movie theater shooting in 2012, but that didn’t stop Mike Coffman from siding with the gun lobby instead of listening to his constituents. Colorado voters demanded a leader with the guts to fight for gun safety, and they got one in Army veteran Jason Crow.
Giffords contribution: We ran a $2 million ads campaign making clear the choice for Colorado families.
DEAN HELLER | NRA Rating: A
Even after the Las Vegas massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Dean Heller offered condolences, but no solutions. Fortunately, Nevada voters spoke loud and clear for Jacky Rosen, a leader with the backbone to fight the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda in Washington. Along with a Giffords endorsement, Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly joined Jacky Rosen in Las Vegas for a roundtable with gun violence survivors and called for Congress to take action.
The NRA’s influence is dwindling.
These losing NRA-backed candidates are part of a larger trend: the NRA’s dwindling influence over politics and elections. Candidates ran toward gun safety and distanced themselves from the NRA’s toxic brand. At the same time, voters’ demands for gun safety grew ever louder, so we went head to head with the NRA’s once-mighty political machine and ran ads in competitive swing districts.
In every race where we aired television ads, our candidate won.
As the votes continue to be counted, one thing is clear: The politics around this issue are changing. We’re looking forward to ushering in the new gun safety majority in the House of Representatives and getting to work.
- Read the statement from Gabrielle Giffords on the new gun safety majority in Congress.
- Read our Election Night blog for a list of winning gun safety candidates and a breakdown of some of the themes of this year’s election season.