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Is MAIG Just a Bunch of Mayors Overplaying Their Hand?

Matthew asks an interesting question to ponder in the comments to one of Sebastian’s threads that I thought was relevant enough to warrant its own post.

If there’s a benefit to having MAIG as the remaining real threat it’s that Bloomberg, I think, has a “wrong” view of how most states actually work due to his situation.

In NY and IL, NYC and Chicago respectively have mayors with real power who can, to a degree, dictate state law and policy. Maybe L.A. in CA is like that also?

Conversely you have a Denver and Vegas which have hollowed out little gun control fiefdoms in CO and NV but are under constant attack just to hold the line. I can’t even think of their mayor’s names, unlike the two above.

Madison couldn’t hold Wisconsin, Philly, gosh bless it, tries and tries in PA but is forced to retrain officers concerning open carry. As noted, most of the MAIG mayors who are “names” are known due to scandals and failures, not bold leadership.

I guess my point is, as long as Bloomberg sticks with the Mayoral focus he isn’t putting his money where it will do the most good (state and national lobbying) and it traps him, and those he gives money to, in “crazy pill” territory like arguing -for- state’s and cities’ rights, but only on some topics.

If this were the case, then I would argue that MAIG isn’t worth much time or effort. Unfortunately, you have to look at MAIG through the eyes of a power-hunger mayor about to lose his only hold on the most powerful city in the country. I mean the guy demanded they change the term limit laws just to stay in power, and even then he convinced the President to back him over the guy running on the Democratic ticket. (Hell, even with an amazing artistic coalition running a memorable and impressive campaign against his term limit abuse, the guy still won.)

Instead, what MAIG has done is what Paul Helmke could not do at the Brady Campaign, and what their next president will not be able to do – he built grassroots. Sort of.

Bloomberg realized that the anti-gun groups had never been able to build grassroots. Regardless of how much money Joyce has thrown at the various organizations, none of them have developed a real network that stands specifically for gun control and gets involved in the political process at even a fraction of the rates that gun owners do. (Even a Brady board member concedes that our people are simply more involved in politics, though she calls it “overwhelming” & “intimidat[ing]” politicians.) In my talks with many of the protesters in Pittsburgh, many were part of another coalition first and foremost, gun control was merely another thing they just showed up for that one time. Most were part of a faith community, some were part of the “peace” movement, and several others were actually there to protest the Pittsburgh Police Department hiring practices, which was a little odd. Only one of the people I talked to (and not all are on camera) actually cited gun control as the key issue that got them worked up or drove them to come out for the day. They might all want more gun control, but it isn’t an issue that alone drives them to action.

Bloomberg also realized that he couldn’t coordinate members of Congress in the same way, nor could he do so effectively with state lawmakers outside of a few anti-gun states. So what potentially influential group could he try to round up as the closest he could find to “grassroots” while still bringing enough power and money over them to keep control over the group & messaging? Mayors.

He actually doesn’t need powerful mayors in big cities beyond the press attention they can bring for no other reason than being involved in government in a media market hub. His real success is reaching out to suburban and small town mayors who don’t read his materials and assume the name MAIG means the group really only targets criminals with guns. Bloomberg offers to do all the work with the organization, the mayors just have to sign up. Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s political staffers (like the one who now heads up CeaseFire PA, but used to work in PA for Bloomberg) use the names of these mayors to buy advertising, send letters to Congress, and attempt to push for more gun control through the Executive Branch. The former mayor of Houston, a Democrat, lambasted Bloomberg for using his name without permission in the ads & letters when he left the coalition. Bloomberg knows that none of these mayors are going to track what he is doing with their name as part of his coalition, and he exploits that.

There’s also a perception that a mayor of a town is more likely to represent the people because they are more local. It’s as if each mayor is actually signing up for at least half of the people in his/her town. Yet, at the same time, because they are mayors and not just Joe Sixpack Citizen, their support may actually be far more powerful to another lawmaker at the state or possibly even federal level.

Not to mention, Bloomberg is essentially investing in these mayors who may decide to step up and run for higher offices. One of them did, and he targeted an A rated congressman on our side. Fortunately, he did it in 2010 and lost, but it was still a threat. Several others were running for state legislative offices around Pennsylvania, and ended up losing. Regardless, it’s still a threat for him to be investing in these mayors.

So while I see Matthew’s point on what a reasonable person would assume MAIG would do, Mayor Bloomberg is not reasonable. He’s not viewing these mayors as individual tools to sway a state legislature or a few members of Congress. He’s using them to build a powerful faux-grassroots knowing that they won’t pay enough attention to the issues to disagree with him. He isn’t stopping at issues where they need to take a states-rights point-of-view, and he knows there will be punishment if he is called out for overstepping his bounds. No one tells this guy “no,” not even the laws of term limits. That is why MAIG is still a real threat.

5 Responses to “Is MAIG Just a Bunch of Mayors Overplaying Their Hand?”

  1. Jacob says:

    I disagree with your conclusion. Bloomberg is using MAIG members as a lobbying tool for state legislatures and Congress. He tried that here with microstamping, sending out canned press releases to newspapers signed by several MAIG members in an attempt to swing some votes in the State Senate. He’s tried it in your area with local lost & stolen laws in an attempt to either weaken pre-emption or get a statewide law. State legislators and Congressmen are more likely to support something if they see their local politicians supporting it, especially if they are of the same party.

    Equally important, having these mayors running around, even they just exist on paper, exposes a political weakness because I have not seen NRA or any other gun group claim to have knocked out any MAIG members at election time. Yes, some did voluntarily leave the group and a number have been convicted of various criminal activities, but I have not seen one statement from any gun organization anywhere claim they specifically targeted and successfully defeated a MAIG member in an election. This can be interpreted by politicians higher up to mean that gun groups either will not or can not act politically in their back yard. That is not where we want to be.

  2. ecurb says:

    I’m sure the late, unlamented mayor of Seattle got took advice on his “no guns in parks” policy from MAIG, who had evidently never heard of “state preemption”.

    • Bitter says:

      ecurb, You’d think that MAIG would be a vehicle for promoting more local gun control. It really hasn’t done that at all except a little bit here in Pennsylvania. However, as I mentioned in the post, that’s because the former MAIG Pennsylvania staffer is now the CeaseFire PA leader, so it’s basically all one agenda now.

      Jacob, For someone arguing the exact same thing, you’re sure adamant to insist I’m wrong.

  3. Jacob says:

    You said “He’s not viewing these mayors as individual tools to sway a state legislature or a few members of Congress.” I disagree with that.

  4. Ian Argent says:

    OK – question answered from earlier thread – he is a threat.

    I’m still not convinced he’s a long-term threat, because to do so he either has to continue as Mayor NYC (an even tougher row to hoe) or NEVER campaign at national level; so as to avoid exposing his massive ego.

    He might make Senator – but I don’t think that he’ll see that as a step ahead.

    There’s reasons that Mayors of NYC don’t go farther – the NYC political arena is like few others, and none of the “higher” jobs have politics that work the same.

    (He could have made President in 2008 absent Obama and Clinton; though so could almost anyone without an R behind his name, IMHO)

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