Pennsylvania voters will have municipal races coming up this November, and that has us thinking about gun rights at the local level. Typically, NRA does not endorse or issue grades for local candidates, so there is rarely an easy pro-Second Amendment voter guide available. However, we do have one useful measure for finding our friends and foes. With Mayor Michael Bloomberg making more noise out of New York about gun control, it makes sense to take a closer look at his cohorts in the Keystone State.
According to Bloombergâ€™s website, there are 103 mayors in Pennsylvania in the group that make up almost one-quarter of his entire coalition. When the federal concealed carry amendment was up for debate and the Pennsylvania coalition of mayors sent a letter to Senators Casey and Specter, we posted a list of mayors in the 8th & 13th Congressional districts. It’s been one of the most popular pages on the site. More than a few folks had no idea their mayor was spending part of his/her July campaigning against concealed carry rights.
Who are Bloomberg’s Mayors?
Some of Pennsylvania’s Bloomberg mayors were found in unexpected places. Check out this list of all 103 mayors listed on the site as of August 15. That’s 103 mayors too many, but there are some surprises.
View Bloomberg’s Anti-Gun Mayors in Pennsylvania in a larger map
It might surprise people to see that most of the mayors who support Michael Bloomberg are not in the Philadelphia suburbs. In fact, 32% of the mayors are in far western Congressional districts. Of all of the Congressional districts with more than half a dozen mayors, half of them are in or border Allegheny County. It would appear as though Mayor Bloomberg or a Pennsylvania surrogate has been on a serious recruiting spree in the Pittsburgh region.
Mayor Mike’s coalition here in Pennsylvania represents less than 3 million residents of more than 12 million in the state. In fact, the average population of the town with a Bloomberg mayor is 28,643. If you remove the cities with more than 100,000 residents (the top 4), that average drops to only 9,856. In fact, 18 mayors represent towns and boroughs with less than 1,000 people. More than 50 represent towns of less than 5,000. A full 70% of the mayors in Bloomberg’s army lead towns of less than 10,000 people. That’s hardly a big city mayor coalition. This is a winnable fight to take back our towns.
Turning Up the Heat on Election Day
One huge benefit to municipal races is that voter turnout is extremely low. Looking at Bucks County (most of the 8th Congressional District), we find that the county-wide 2007 municipal races had turnout of only 29% compared to 76% in November’s presidential race or even 57% in the last off-year Congressional election. In Montgomery County (most of the 13th Congressional District), voter turnout for municipal races in 2007 was at 30% as compared to the November general at 73% and 2006 Congressional (off-year) race at 55%.
Typically, only the most active partisans turn out for local elections if they are not held alongside major statewide or national races. This makes the prospect of giving the boot to local mayors even easier – and sometimes the threat of a challenge is even more useful than an actual get out the vote effort.
If you live in one of the towns governed by a Bloomberg mayor or know a gun owner who does, it may not be hard to turn an election. Get the rest of the family to vote, and tell friends about the other candidates who may be more friendly to Second Amendment rights. One active resident may single-handedly turn it into a landslide. Imagine the impact putting a flier in the local gun shop where all the local sportsmen hang out. In an election when many of them aren’t likely turning out to the polls, they might suddenly become a local voting bloc worthy of some campaign time.
Knowing Your Neighborhood Issues
Finally, one of the biggest benefits to local races is the fact that you are closer to most of the other voters. As a resident, you know what frustrates your neighbors, encourage them to get out to the polls on that issue. Don’t restrict yourself to talking about gun rights. Change begins at home, and you know better than some worker down in Fairfax what’s really got the non-gun owners on your block upset. Remember, just like you probably don’t vote in municipal elections, they probably don’t, either. That means your whole neighborhood just put itself on the map for better treatment and more attention from local officials. (Remember, party officials and leaders can tell who turned out to vote through the voter rolls. To the winners go the spoils, so get yourself some spoils by simply showing up.)
Why Wait until Election Day?
Of course, the other benefit to local government is that it may not even require defeating the mayor in an election. The candidates and parties know turnout is consistently a problem. Angering residents for absolutely no reason is something they cannot afford to do. One or two phone calls from upset residents may be enough to convince them to leave. A handful of phone calls in the mayor’s office will really shake things up in mid-sized town.
If the town has a gun club or range, the opportunities are even greater. Members can call regardless of where they live. They can still claim to be involved with the town, and more importantly, they would be happy to spread word about such anti-gun views come campaign time. There’s a good chance that local mayors have no idea what Mayor Bloomberg has signed them onto, and reason will likely prevail.
Consider the situation with former Williamsport, PA mayor Mary Wolf who publicly left the group in 2007. This New York Sun article quotes a local gun dealer who found out about her membership and made some phone calls about it. Imagine a few signs up at the gun range, getting staff or club officers to let all the residents who come in know about a mayor’s involvement.
Outreach is Key
How many of the 684 residents of Ulysses know that Mayor Jane Haskins was campaigning against concealed carry and has supported lawsuits that put gun shops out of business?
Or how about the 290 residents of Laporte with Mayor Robert Carpenter and 153 residents of Eagles Mere with Mayor Betty Hays?
Are the gun owners among the 626 residents of Marianna aware that Mayor Russell LaRew signed on to support such initiatives?
With only 1,921 people in all of Industry, would it really take much pressure to convince Mayor Nicholas Yanosich that he should stand up for the Constitution instead of against it?
Isn’t it possible to get word out to Mayor Jay Stover in Telford that he shouldn’t be working against the rights of his 4,680 citizens?
Keep in mind, these numbers are a matter of population, registered voters are far fewer.
Making a Difference Locally…
As one of the largest gun blogs and generally having the ear of the major political blogger Instapundit on the issues, SayUncle was able to successfully make membership in Bloombergâ€™s group a liability for Knoxville, Tennesseeâ€™s Bill Haslam. Unfortunately, targeting most of these mayors wonâ€™t be as easy as writing a few blog posts about them.
Some of the mayors legitimately share Bloombergâ€™s view on gun rights and would like to see them curtailed. Others donâ€™t really know what they signed up for â€“ accounts by some former Bloomberg mayors suggest that it is sold as a group that really does focus on crime issues rather than taking positions against concealed carry and leading lawsuits for third party actions against gun store owners. These mayors simply need to be educated.
Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral coalition has particular relevance for Pennsylvania’s gun owners. This coalition is one of Bloomberg’s favorite public relations tools, so it would be nice to disable it. He pulled it out to run ads in national newspapers and in letters to Congress asking for more restrictions on our rights.
One of his favorite claims to both the media and other politicians is that the coalition is not just a big city groups since he has pulled more than 450 mayors from across the country to stand with him in his attacks on gun rights. If he has 450 mayors, that means 23% of them are from Pennsylvania! Bloomberg has invested heavily in Pennsylvania’s mayors, and we should be concerned by that fact. What is he hoping to get from that investment? More importantly, what has he already received and what is on the immediate horizon?
Consider the attacks on preemption we’re seeing across Pennsylvania. When cities and towns pass legislation requiring you to report lost or stolen guns in a manner they arbitrarily consider reasonable, it makes gun owners potential victims to abusive prosecutors. Those nine cities are: Erie, Allentown, Reading, Pottsville, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Wilkinsburg. Guess how many of those cities have mayors in the coalition? Nine.
Some of these mayors also have their eye on higher offices. Consider Mayor John Callahan of Bethlehem (population 71,329) who is challenging Congressman Charlie Dent for his seat. Should he be successful (reports indicate he will be a very strong challenger), that seat will go from an A rating to Bloomberg-controlled anti-gun overnight.
While we can’t stop Mayor Callahan until next November, we could see to it that other mayors find the New York-based coalition to be a political liability for future office and convince them to denounce his positions. If they continue to stand by Bloomberg, we can show up at the ballot box and try to put a stop to their political futures by ousting them from the office.
What I hope is that the citizens of Birdsboro convince Mayor Robert Myers to leave Bloomberg’s anti-gun agenda behind (or send him packing if he refuses) so that the 5,064 residents don’t have to fear a patchwork of local laws.
I don’t want the gun owners among the 2,812 residents of Wind Gap to stand confused should Mayor Mitchell Mogilski try to implement Bloomberg’s ideal gun controls in their town.