Bloomberg’s plans to target Begich over gun control will likely backfire

I don’t think that the common Alaska political adage that we “do it different up here,” is a good one for this state. I’ve seen that kind of mentality breed parochialism that has allowed the state to be the richest in the country, yet have the highest rates of suicide, alcoholism and sexual abuse. That mentality has encouraged discarding of social norms. It’s encouraged apathy and nepotism and has allowed those traits to be celebrated.

But sometimes it’s true. And those from outside of Alaska who want to thrust themselves on Alaskans would do themselves a favor by recognizing this.

In this case I’m talking about gun control, and about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s quest to go after Democrats up in 2014 who voted against background checks. Bloomberg’s Super Pac, Independence USA, has its eyes on Alaskan and on U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, among others.

Bloomberg’s goal is to break the stranglehold that that NRA has on politicians. His thinking, according to The New Republic, is that the NRA holds disproportionate sway over politicians, even as its support among the public dwindles. His message is that the power of the NRA is more a matter of “entrenched wisdom than fact.”

In 2010, Independence USA spent $10 million on ads supporting pro-gun-control candidates. According to the New Republic, the group is credited for unseating California Democratic Rep. Joe Baca. Independence USA is also pumping money into the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The group has grown to 975 mayors, and has more than 50 staffers along with a boatload of lobbyists and field organizers.

As for 2014, “Bloomberg is planning to hit the airwaves on a scale Washington has not fully grasped.”

The question is what, if any, impact a Bloomberg attack on Begich will have.

For one, it might actually help Begich. Just yesterday I heard his voice in an ad on the radio, telling listeners that we just do things different up here, and warning them that Outsiders are going to take him on for his gun vote.

Secondly, there is no other candidate from either party who could win the race who would vote any differently than Begich.

Let me repeat: No other candidate in Alaska has a chance of winning if he or she is any softer on guns than Begich.

Alaska is gun country. It’s a state where the difference between having and not having a gun can mean the difference between life and death. That’s not some sort of NRA-hyped mythology that may or may not be perpetrated in other states. That’s just fact, and Begich, more than Bloomberg knows this.

Another fact: Anchorage, the state’s largest city, which has lax gun restrictions, has a lower murder rate per capita than does New York City.

I can see the counter ads now: The mayor of New York City thinks he can change Alaska? Mr. Mayor, clean up your own backyard. And when you get that done, come tell us how to do things differently.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


5 thoughts on “Bloomberg’s plans to target Begich over gun control will likely backfire

  1. Will Updegrove

    Amanda –
    I was a month or so ahead of Bloomberg on this. I already told Mr. Begich to stop sending campaign emails or requests for donations. I’m not a big NYC donor, but I do vote in Bethel, AK and I’ve told Mr. Begich I would be happy to vote against him in the primary, but will probably be reduced to voting for the Green Party candidate in the general election. Mr. Begich or any Alaska candidate can be “pro-gun” without being pro-NRA. Universal background checks will not take away anyone’s guns. There were significant numbers of senators with prior 100% NRA voting records who were willing to opt for a common sense background check – it is just unfortunate that Mr. Begich lacked the courage to follow their example.

  2. Stirling Amacker

    Hello Amanda! I can’t wait to check out your website.

    What is wrong with background checks to buy a firearm? Of course I wasn’t legally forced to, but I had to go through a rigorous background check to get a job that will in no way make me a threat to society. I understand that there are some places in AK that a firearm is useful, but life and death? If it’s bears you’re concerned about you have a much better chance of survival with other non lethal deterrents. If it’s subsistence, you may have a bit of a point, but surely the mentally ill and felons could team up with a family member or perhaps move into the city. Didn’t we have back ground checks and waiting periods in the recent past? Were Alaskans starving and being eaten alive then?
    Also, comparing our murder rate to a city (New York) that is a virtual island in a sea of guns (United States), makes it sound like you don’t believe that our country’s or even our states unusually high rate of gun violence has anything to do with the availability of firearms. I know that gun nuts can’t do that math, but I’m sure you can and I’d like to think Senator Begich can. If he can, he just voted against reasonable gun control measures to make sure he can keep his job. If he can’t do that math then he isn’t smart enough for my vote. Either way he’s lost my vote and so has Lisa.
    And good for anyone raising funds to push back against our NRA owned politicians.

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