With control of the Virginia Senate on the line, anti-gun groups, led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety, have outspent pro-gun groups, such as the National Rifle Association, almost 5 to 1.
According to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project, gun control organizations gave $2,464,127 in direct and in-kind contributions. Nearly all of that total - $2,413,355 - came from Everytown for Gun Safety. The cash was spent primarily in the 10th and 29th Senate district races. Both of those contests are open seats with no incumbent.
Another gun control group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, made $205,000 worth of independent expenditures. The group's largest single expenditure has been in Senate District 13, where Republican incumbent Dick Black faces Democrat Jill McCabe.
On the other side of the gun issue, the National Rifle Association has spent $430,200 on independent expenditures, but it has spread the money over 19 Senate and House contests, including primaries.
Combined cash contributions directly to candidates from the NRA, gun dealers, and the pro-Second Amendment group Virginia Citizens Defense League total $113,927.
Including another $32,500 in expenditures by the Defense League's PAC, advocates for Second Amendment rights have spent $576,627 in Virginia this cycle, a little more than a fifth of the amount spend by gun control advocates.
One NRA official said Everytown's large buy in support of Democrat Jeremy McPike, in a Northern Virginia state Senate race against Republican Hal Parrish, will end up being wasted money.
“Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy a narrative by dumping a boat load of cash ($1.6 million) into a district that President Obama won with 63 percent of the vote," NRA Media Manager Lars Dalseide told AMI Newswire Tuesday. "If [McPike] does win it’s not a victory for gun control because an overwhelming majority of the ads they’re running are on education, transportation, and women’s health."
In an April 2014, New York Times interview, Bloomberg said he intended to invest up to $50 million of his own money in Everytown for Gun Safety and positioned the group as a direct counterpoint to the NRA.
Bloomberg was quoted in the story as saying: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has made tougher enforcement of gun laws a central issue and has weighed in against several GOP lawmakers he says are too pro-gun. The state is widely seen as a test case for Democratic Party hopes to run and win on support for heavier gun control in next year's U.S. House and Senate races.