Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The gun-control group started this year by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is making its first significant political investments of the midterms — announcing endorsements in more than 100 federal and state contests and launching television commercials in two states.
Everytown for Gun Safety's endorsements and the new ads in Illinois and Oregon are part of an effort by Bloomberg to make curbing gun violence a pivotal issue in midterm elections that will determine which political party controls the Senate and the agenda on Capitol Hill. Republicans need to net six seats to win the majority in November.
The campaign includes what supporters call a "Gun Sense Voter" road show with stops in Oregon, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Maine, Maryland and Connecticut over the next three weeks. The tour, led by Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, also will visit Seattle where Everytown is pushing a state initiative that would expand background checks for firearms purchased online and at gun shows.
"We want gun safety to be an issue that people vote on," said John Feinblatt, Everytown's president.
Bloomberg, a billionaire who has made gun control one of his top causes, has pledged to spend $50 million this year to build a grass-roots network aimed at combating the National Rifle Association's influence in Washington and state capitols around the country.
NRA officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The stark ads that Everytown will begin airing Tuesday seek to underscore the human toll of gun violence.
"It hurts every day," Chicago parent Nate Pendleton says in one 30-second ad as he holds a photograph of his 15-year-old daughter, Hadiya. The honor student was gunned down Jan. 29, 2013 — eight days after she performed at President Obama's inauguration with her high school band and drill team.
"Get yourself involved with your politicians," Pendleton says to the camera. "We have the power to vote them in. We have the power to vote them out."
Another ad features Paul Kemp, whose brother-in-law, Steve Forsyth, was one of two people killed Dec. 11, 2012, when a gunman opened fire in a crowded shopping center outside Portland, Ore.