DENVER – A gun-safety group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall for re-election Tuesday.
Republicans are using the endorsements as fodder, suggesting that Hickenlooper and Udall are in lockstep with Bloomberg’s liberal policies.
The endorsements came from Everytown for Gun Safety, a coalition including Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which Bloomberg co-founded, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“Coloradans have repeatedly rejected Michael Bloomberg’s radical gun-control agenda, and they will reject Sen. Udall in November,” said Alex Siciliano, a campaign spokesman for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican challenger in the U.S. Senate race.
The politics around Bloomberg stem from his involvement during two recall elections in Colorado after the 2013 Democratic-controlled Legislature’s push for gun control.
Hickenlooper signed bills that year that banned high-capacity ammunition magazines of more than 15 rounds and required universal background checks.
Hickenlooper is facing off against Republican challenger Bob Beauprez, a former congressman who has placed a spotlight on the gun-control issue.
The laws angered the Second Amendment crowd, and recall elections were organized against two state lawmakers. Both lawmakers were stunningly recalled from office, a first in Colorado history.
Bloomberg wrote a personal check for $350,000 to support opposition to the recall efforts.
This summer, Bloomberg made headlines after an interview with Rolling Stone magazine when he suggested that the two Colorado communities in which the recalls took place are roadless.
The East Coast billionaire was quickly attacked by the right, who pointed out that Colorado Springs and Pueblo clearly have roads.
Bloomberg also became involved in another Colorado issue in 2013, the campaign for a nearly $1 billion tax increase to fund K-12 education. Bloomberg Philanthropies donated $1.05 million to proponents, but Amendment 66 still failed.
Udall’s campaign said Republicans are focusing on gimmicks, rather than issues.
“Congressman Gardner will say and do anything to distract Coloradans from that pesky signature of his on the personhood bill in Congress,” said Udall spokeswoman Kristin Lynch, referring to a pro-life federal measure sponsored by Gardner.
Eddie Stern, a spokesman for the Hickenlooper campaign, said, “The governor signed gun-safety legislation in 2013, including a bill mandating background checks on private sales to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic-violence abusers and dangerous people. Coloradans support this legislation, and it is no surprise that people across the country agree with the governor on how important it is to keep our citizens safe.”
Democratic strategist Rick Ridder does not place too much weight in the attacks on Bloomberg.
“There’s so much information about the U.S. Senate race and governor race, this gets lost in the cloud,” Ridder said. “It doesn’t make any difference. No one is waking up in the morning saying, ‘Boy, Bloomberg endorsed Mark Udall, therefore, that’s who I’m going to vote for.’ Or the other way around.”
But Republicans continue to play the Bloomberg card.
“Bloomberg has spent millions to sway Colorado politics, resulting in spectacular failures at every turn,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “Everything Bloomberg touches in the state goes the opposite way. He’s like the King Midas of losing instead of gold.”