Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe did not want his second run for governor in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be framed by the issue of gun control.
His website and campaign literature made no mention of it for a period of time. As head of the Democratic National Committee in 2001, he urged fellow Democrats to drop the gun control issue altogether after George W. Bush defeated former-Vice President Al Gore in 2000:
By the middle of 2001, ditching gun control had become conventional wisdom among centrist Democrats. Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., said Al Gore had talked about it too much. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Gore’s running mate, thought gun control had cost the Democratic ticket “a number of voters who on almost every other issue realized they’d be better off with Al Gore.” Terry McAuliffe, head of the Democratic National Committee, in particular wanted his party to drop the issue.
Although it was relatively well known among political circles that McAuliffe was a supporter of the Assault Weapons Ban, McAuliffe’s campaign strategically kept away from the issue. At least thirty-five percent of Virginians are gun owners (compare that to Colorado at 34.7 percent or Texas at 35.9 percent). Democrat Tim Kaine said this in 2005 when he ran for governor:
Tim Kaine strongly supports the Second Amendment. As the next Governor of Virginia, he will not propose any new gun laws. Instead Tim Kaine will guarantee strict enforcement of our existing criminal laws. He will also expand the use of such enforcement strategies as Project Exile that target criminals who use guns rather than law-abiding gun owners.
Kaine won the gubernatorial election and later ran for Senator. As Senator, Kaine supported the lastest attempt at assault weapons ban legislation.
On August 5, Breitbart News finally got McAuliffe to reveal more about what kind of gun control measures he would like to see in Virginia. He did not seem to care that violent crime was going down while gun sales were going up in the Old Dominion, telling Breitbart News that it “isn’t the issue.”
The McAuliffe staff continued to run the campaign as if McAuliffe never said anything about guns. It was later revealed in early September by Politico, however, that Mayors Against Illegal Guns co-founder New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg had quietly met with McAuliffe. The meeting reportedly happened following the recall defeat of two pro gun control state senators in Colorado that Bloomberg’s group had supported. Neither Bloomberg or McAuliffe wanted to acknowledge the meeting happened, though.
By September 17, the McAuliffe campaign announced an endorsement from Virginia Beach Republican Mayor Will Sessoms. The campaign omitted the fact, Breitbart News pointed out, that Sessoms, along with at least six other mayors who have endorsed McAuliffe, are members of Bloomberg’s MAIG.
One week later, McAuliffe’s campaign website added information about where McAuliffe stood on the gun issue. Breitbart News caught the updated information on the site, noting McAuliffe’s support of various gun restrictions amounted to similar legislation that happened in the Colorado earlier this year.
Finally, at last Wednesdays gubernatorial debate in McLean, McAuliffe told the C-Span audience he not only wants the AWB in Virginia, he would also “push” for further gun control in the state if elected. It is now full steam ahead for McAuliffe on the anti-Second Amendment platform.