WASHINGTON – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Democratic Party Monday said they laid down big money in hopes that they can damage Republican members of Congress from New York who favor gun rights, including Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence and Rep. Tom Reed of Corning.
The party announced what it called "a six-figure TV, digital, and social media campaign" targeting seven New York representatives in total.
And while it's relatively unusual for a governor to bluntly attack members of the Congress from his or her own state, Cuomo did just that in a press release explaining the ad buy and attacking the National Rifle Association.
The Republican lawmakers "have obstructed universal background checks and are trying to force a ‘concealed carry’ bill into law that is reckless and immoral. Congressional Republicans who aid and abet the NRA will be held accountable for placing domestic violence victims and our children in harm’s way," Cuomo said.
Collins, who has sparred repeatedly with the governor over the gun issue and tax issues in the past year, immediately sent out a fundraising email in response.
"King Cuomo is scared," Collins said in the email. "He's scared that we're lowering your taxes, protecting our Second Amendment rights, and helping businesses create hundreds of thousands of new jobs."
Included in the Democratic press release were samples of the web ads the party will be running.
One of those shows a worried-looking Collins and includes the text: "Took $4,000 from the NRA. Voted to allow domestic abusers from other states to carry firearms into New York. Rewarded 'A' rating by NRA."
A similar web ad, featuring a years-old picture of Reed before he lost more than 100 pounds through gastric bypass surgery, includes similar language and notes Reed took $10,000 from the NRA.
Asked for his reaction, Reed's campaign manager, Nicholas Weinstein, said: "Tom Reed for Congress is looking forward to Governor Cuomo spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertisements highlighting our support for the Second Amendment."
Other lawmakers targeted in similar Democratic ads include Reps. John Katko of Camillus, Claudia Tenney of New Hartford, Elise Stefanik of Willsboro, John Faso of Kinderhook and Lee Zeldin of Shirley.
The ads coincide with the upcoming March 24 gun violence protests in Washington and across the nation – including in Buffalo – in reaction to the Feb. 14 murder of 17 people at a Florida high school.
Cuomo noted that he forced passage of the SAFE Act gun control legislation after a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school claimed 26 lives in 2012.
"We grieved, we held our children a little tighter, and then we took action, passing the toughest, strongest protections against gun violence in the nation," Cuomo said.
But Collins – who has introduced federal legislation that would essentially nullify the SAFE Act – said Cuomo was attacking law-abiding gun owners in the state.
"King Cuomo thinks he can peddle his radical, anti-Trump agenda in Western New York – but he's terribly mistaken. Now let's prove it," Collins said, asking for donations of $10, $20 or $30 to help him fight what's expected to be an aggressive Democratic challenge this fall.