Michael Bloomberg wasted a lot of money in a number of states during the current election cycle. He spent about $100 million dollars in Florida, Ohio and Texas alone in an attempt to flip those states blue. That didn’t happen. All three states went red on Tuesday.
Another place where Bloomberg bucks were spent was in Montana trying to defeat LR-130, a ballot measure to prevent local jurisdictions from enacting gun control laws that are more strict than those at the state level (AKA, preemption). While the vote was close — the margin was just under 11,000 votes — the preemption law passed.
“LR-130 protects us from entities in the future enacting stricter gun laws than exist at the state level,” said state Rep. Matt Regier, R-Columbia Falls, who sponsored the bill to place LR-130 on the ballot.
He said LR-130 prevents Montana from having a patchwork of local gun ordinances, which could be difficult to track and comply with.
Several cities in Montana have rules prohibiting open or concealed carry at public gatherings or in parks or cemeteries that, with the passage of LR-130, may be illegitimate. For instance, the ordinances in Libby and Culbertson banning guns in cemeteries are likely no longer legal, and Helena likely won’t be able to continue requiring concealed carriers to alert local authorities if they visit or live in the city.
Bloomberg’s Everytown gun control operation was a big supporter of the effort to defeat the preemption law.
The NRA Big Sky Self-Defense Committee, the main group that supported LR-130, received nearly all the $51,600 it raised from the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, according to records from the commissioner of political practices.
The unsuccessful “Vote No on LR-130” campaign raised about $1.4 million and received significant in-kind contributions from national and state groups, including the Montana Federation of Public Employees, the Montana League of Cities and Towns, Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and the Montana Human Rights Network, according to the commissioner of political practices records.
It was a good election season for gun rights in the Big Sky state. Former governor and dedicated anti-gunner Steve Bullock (he vetoed three constitutional carry bills during his time in office) decided to challenge Senator Steve Daines. That was after running a failed primary campaign for the presidency.
But Montanans had had enough of Bullock. Daines defeated him 55% to 45%. Republican Greg Gianforte won the race for Governor, too.
And in another win for gun rights, former Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen — an occasional TTAG contributor — won the race for Attorney General by 17 points. That, despite being outraised by Democrat Ralph Graybill nearly two to one.
“I’m really looking at the fact that we’ve really dramatically increased spending in Helena in the last eight years,” Knudsen told MTPR. “At the same time, violent crime is rising dramatically in the state. So we’re not getting a good value for our tax dollar there.”
Knudsen’s pledges to tackle crime and Helena bureaucracy won him support from a slew of Republicans and conservative groups across the state, including the Great Falls Police Protective Association, some current and former sheriffs, and the Montana Shooting Sports Association.