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Gun control group makes a splash in 2 NM Senate races

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The political arm of a New York-based gun control group that pushed for recent background check and temporary firearm seizure laws is spending big bucks on two contested New Mexico Senate primary races.

Specifically, the Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund is spending $50,000 on mailers targeting two incumbent Democrats – Gabriel Ramos of Silver City and Clemente Sanchez of Grants – who are facing progressive challengers and voted against the gun measures.

The mailers, which will start hitting the mailboxes of registered Democratic voters in the two districts this weekend, are part of a wave of outside spending on contested legislative races for the June 2 primary election.

Oil companies and environmental groups are also spending big money in this year’s election cycle.

The Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, which is affiliated with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is no stranger to New Mexico politics, after spending nearly $400,000 in the state’s 2018 election cycle. That included campaign contributions aimed at helping elect Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Lujan Grisham campaigned on a gun safety platform, and has signed both the expanded background check requirement and extreme risk order bills into law since taking office in January 2019.

“These days, when politicians vote against common sense gun safety bills, it’s not just bad for public safety, it’s bad for their political future,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. “New Mexicans have made it clear they want lawmakers who will stand up for gun safety, and now Everytown is making it clear which candidates pass that test.”

Meanwhile, Sanchez and Ramos are among a group of five moderate Senate Democrats who have drawn the ire of progressives for their votes on bills dealing with gun control, abortion, marijuana legalization and early childhood education programs.

Ramos, who was appointed to the Senate last year by Lujan Grisham, is running against Siah Correa Hemphill of Silver City in the Senate District 28 primary race.

And Sanchez, chairman of the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee, is being challenged by fellow Democrat Pam Cordova of Rio Communities in Senate District 30.

Sanchez said Thursday he’s not a gun owner, but has due process concerns about the red flag gun law that, after taking effect this week, allows firearms to be temporarily taken from an individual deemed a danger to themselves or others.

“I stand by my record because I know my district,” Sanchez told the Journal.

He also said many voters in his largely rural Senate district are fed up with negative mailers sent by outside groups.

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