Dem donors threaten to withhold cash from Senators who don't vote for background checks
Most politicians don't like to be pushed - or at least give the appearance of being pushed - so I don't know how effective this tactic will be.
With red state Democratic Senators remaining skittish about embracing Obama's gun proposals, at least two top Democratic donors are stepping forward and vowing to withhold any and all future financial contributions from any Democrats who don't support the centerpiece of Obama's plan: Expanded background checks.
Kenneth Lerer, a New York businessman who is chairman of Buzzfeed.com, and David Bohnett, a technology entrepreneur and philanthopist based in Los Angeles, are both major financial supporters of Democratic candidates, having each given scores of large contributions over the years. They are both key players in the political fundraising world and wield influence among other donors and fundraisers.
Neither will give another dime to any Senate Democrat who does not support expanded background checks, I'm told - and both will suggest to other donors that they do the same. The move underscores the rising importance of gun control as an issue in Democratic politics - and the rising frustration in some Democratic circles with elected officials who continue to regard gun politics as a third rail, at a moment that presents a real opportunity to achieve serious reform, with a policy that enjoys near universal public support.
"At some point you have to draw a line in the sand - for me that time is now," Lerer told me in an interview. "If candidates or officeholders can't support something like comprehensive and enforceable background checks, then I wouldn't think of giving them any money going forward."
So which will it be? Lost votes or lost cash? Any vote for a background check will cost these Senators significant support. It's always easier to raise money than to get someone to vote for you, so unless we're talking about millions of dollars per candidate, I think most Senators will ignore the threat and vote their interest, if not their conscience.