These Florida Democrats Have a Bold Strategy for Fighting Back Against the NRA

The liberal PAC Run for Something, which encourages progressive millennial candidates to run for office, ran full-page ads Sunday and Wednesday in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel listing 24 Republican legislators in the state who have an A or A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association and are running unopposed in November. (The NRA considers an A-rating “solidly pro-gun.”)

Run for Something co-founder Amanda Litman—a former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer—told CBS News that the PAC has seen a 150 percent increase in potential candidates since the first ad ran on Sunday, adding, “If they don't have people running against them, there is nobody who can hold their feet to the fire for the positions they're taking that put our kids in danger.”

Instead of pressuring gun lobby kowtowers in Tallahassee to change their minds, Run for Something aims to “recruit young, progressive people to run for office for the first time.”

“Placing an ad in a major newspaper gave us an opportunity to reach new audiences and that's what we're all about: bringing new faces and perspectives into the fold,” a spokesperson for Run for Something told AlterNet.

Run for Something has so far endorsed three candidates in Florida state house races. Cedric McMinn is challenging incumbent Democrat Cynthia Stafford for State Representative in District 109. In the 47th district, Anna Eskamani is looking to replace Republican Mike Miller, who’s running for Congress.

Emma Collum is running against incumbent Republican George Moraitis, a member of the House appropriations committee, which, along with its Senate counterpart, voted along party lines on Tuesday in favor of a $67 million program to train teachers to carry guns in public school classrooms.

Per the Tampa Bay Times:

The goal: 10 marshals (teachers trained to carry a gun) in every school, which would equate to 37,000 statewide. The state would cover the costs of background checks, drug testing, psychological exams and 132 hours of training. The bill ... provide(s) a one-time $500 stipend for those who volunteer to have a gun.

Republican José R. Oliva told the Times that the so-called “school marshal” program is “the last line of defense” against school shootings. Oliva, the CEO of his family’s cigar company who has an A-rating from the NRA, is running unopposed in Florida’s 110th district. If re-elected, he would become Florida’s next Republican House speaker.

Nine of the 24 NRA-backed Republicans sit on either the Senate or House appropriations committees: Oliva, Travis Cummings, Chris Sprowls, Ray Rodrigues, Dane Eagle, Holly Raschein, Aaron Bean, Jeff Brandes, and Kathleen Passidomo.

Grassroots candidates—like those recruited by Run for Something—are poised to make an especially large impact on the upcoming elections in November. There’s expected to be an influx of progressive female candidates for House seats across the country in response to the presidential election of Donald Trump and the success of two subsequent women’s marches.

“To date, 390 women are planning to run for the House of Representatives, a figure that’s higher than at any point in American history,” New York Magazine’s Rebecca Traister reported last month. “Twenty-two of them are non-incumbent black women—for scale, there are only 18 black women in the House right now. Meanwhile, 49 women are likely to be running for the Senate, more than 68 percent higher than the number who’d announced at the same point in 2014.”

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