TALLAHASSEE - A huge late $2 million investment in the Florida election by a national gun control group largely financed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dwarfs the total amount the group has spent nationally this election cycle.
Everytown for Gun Safety Action announced it will spend the money supporting gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, attorney general candidate Sean Shaw, agricultural commissioner candidate Nicole “Nikki” Fried, and unnamed others.
The group has spent, in total, $1.5 million, most of which, close to $1.3 million, went to support Democrat Lucy McBath in her successful primary race for Georgia's 6th congressional district. McBath is the mother of Jordan Davis, who was shot and killed at a Jacksonville gas station.
Its announcement Oct. 8 came a day after Bloomberg concluded a three day trip to South Florida. Bloomberg is giving a separate $250,000 to Gillum, according to the Sun Sentinel newspaper.
In its release announcing the planned spending, on direct contributions as well as independent expenditures funding mail and digital advertisements, the group also endorsed Shaw for AG.
"Shaw has highlighted his opposition to the NRA and his commitment to common-sense gun laws during his campaign and ran a digital ad spotlighting these positions," the group stated.
It added, "By contrast, his opponent, Ashley Moody, has an A rating from the NRA and opposes stronger gun laws."
But Moody has been boosted in recent weeks by the continued support of individual sheriffs, including endorsements from Democrats, mostly from rural counties.
In late September, 14 sheriffs, including eight Democrats, announced their support for Moody, bringing the total to 57 out of 67 sheriffs in the state.
Several sheriffs contacted by the Florida Record did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the money being spent by Everytown for Gun Safety Action.
But Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson Jr. previously told the Record: "The fact that Judge Moody is supported by 90 percent of Florida sheriffs is not a surprise. She’s the real deal."
Everytown for Gun Safety was formed in 2014, combining 'Mayors Against Illegal Guns' and 'Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America'.
In its release announcing the investment, the umbrella group stated that volunteers with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and survivors of the Pulse nightclub and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School say they have worked "to ensure that gun safety is no longer a third rail issue in Florida."
"In Florida, this election is about gun safety — not political partisanship,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The era of the NRA calling the shots is over.”
The NRA has spent little in Florida this election cycle, using much of its $1.8 million total to oppose Democratic incumbent Jon Tester in Montana and Joe Manchin in West Virginia.
But it did step into the fray last month when it emerged that likely incoming Senate President Bill Galvano's Innovate Florida received $200,000 from Everytown for Gun Safety.
In a message to members, Marion P. Hammer, the prominent NRA lobbyist in Florida, said the donation further suggests that Galvano "colluded with anti-gun Democrats to engineer the gun control package included in SB-7026 this past session."
"Looks like our Second Amendment Rights were sold for a large contribution from anti-gun former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg," Hammer said.
SB 7026, also known as the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act" funds various safety programs but also prohibits the mentally ill from owning a firearm, prohibits a person younger than a certain age from purchasing a firearm, and curtails bump-fire stock sales.