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Giffords gun reform group backs eight 'strong women' in House reelection bids

Giffords gun reform group backs eight 'strong women' in House reelection bids
© Stefani Reynolds

A gun reform advocacy group founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is backing reelection bids for eight freshman congresswomen as part of the organization’s first round of 2020 endorsements.

Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence championed the women, several of whom flipped Republican-held seats in 2018, as key players to fight for gun reform proposals, according to the endorsement exclusively shared with The Hill on Tuesday. 

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“Strong women get things done and these leaders were essential to the successful effort to get gun safety legislation through Congress," Giffords, the founder of the organization and a survivor of gun violence, said in a statement. "Each has made clear that where others might waver, they will push ahead."

"These champions did not back down in the face of a gun lobby that tried to use its power and influence to block progress," she continued. "Their arrival in Washington signaled the NRA’s ironclad grip on the House of Representatives was over.”

Democratic wins in 2018, which gave the party control of the House, were largely credited to women in suburban districts — both female candidates and voters. 

Giffords said gun control is a key issue for suburban women voters, and can help Democrats win in battleground states in November. 

A majority of women in Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas said they support stronger gun laws, and said the issue is “very important” to their vote, according to a poll of 1,500 likely 2020 suburban voters in the states. The poll was commissioned by Giffords and conducted by Global Strategy Group. 

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The poll found that 64 percent of women surveyed would not vote for a candidate who didn’t support requiring background checks on gun sales, according to a polling memo shared with The Hill.

Moreover, the data found that the surveyed women said they would vote for a congressional Democrat over a Republican on a generic ballot by a 15-point margin, 51 percent to 36 percent. However, when asked about a Democrat who supported stronger gun laws versus a Republican who opposed more gun restrictions, the margin on a generic ballot shifted to a 24-point lead for the Democrat, according to the memo. 

The survey was conducted Dec. 13-23 on a web-based panel. There is a confidence interval of 3 percentage points. 

Giffords credits the eight congresswomen with helping Democrats pass a universal background check bill last year. The bill was never taken to a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. 

“It’s not an accident that this is our first round [of endorsements],” Giffords political director Joanna Belanger told The Hill. 

More endorsements will be rolled out soon, she said, but the group is “excited to lead off with this strong group of women who ran and won on this issue in 2018.”

For some of the candidates Giffords is backing, gun reform is a central issue to their campaign. McBath, for example, was thrust into advocacy after her son Jordan was shot and killed in 2012

McBath went on to defeat a GOP incumbent in 2018. In November, she faces one of the toughest elections for a House Democrat. The Cook Political Report rates Georgia’s 6th Congressional District race a “toss up.” 

Meanwhile Underwood, the youngest African American woman elected to the House, faces a similarly tough battle in Illinois’s 14th District, which Cook’s index also rates a “toss up.” She flipped the district from a GOP incumbent in 2018. 

The other candidates backed by Giffords are in less vulnerable seats for the incumbent Democrats.