Seeking to increase his influence on national elections, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was hard at work this week raising his profile and counting his accomplishments, according to The Wall Street Journal
The mayor scored a coup in Chicago, where an anti-gun candidate he backed with $2.5 million in donations won a special Democratic primary Tuesday for the congressional seat formerly held by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
On Wednesday, he was also in Washington at the White House to discuss the potential for new gun control laws with Vice President Joe Biden.
Bloomberg, a billionaire and political independent, has a long history of aggressively promoting issues in which he believes, beginning with anti-smoking, obesity, and gun control efforts.
According to the Journal, he also is expected to announce Thursday that he is donating $100 million to an effort to eradicate polio.
In addition, the Journal said Bloomberg has spent $1 million to help elect a slate of candidates to the Los Angeles Board of Education who share his views on education matters.
Bloomberg’s election efforts have been helped by his Independence USA PAC, which was created last October and has spent more than $12 million so far to support candidates and initiatives that favor same-sex marriage, gun control, and education reform.
Of the 60 contests Bloomberg was involved in last year, ranging from U.S. Senate races to the New Orleans school board elections, he came out on the winning side in 43 of them, the Journal noted.
But it’s his focus at the moment on gun issues that’s drawing most of the attention from his critics, especially the National Rifle Association, which accuses him, as NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told the Journal, of using his money to “create a false sense of momentum” on new gun control proposals.
The NRA points out that while he may have helped Robin Kelly in her Chicago race to fill Jackson’s seat, things may get tougher for him in more conservative areas of the country where people feel strongly about protecting their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
But to his supporters, Bloomberg’s willingness to spend money pushing gun-control efforts around the country could help counter the strong influence the NRA still holds on many lawmakers.
Asked if his efforts in the Chicago race could be considered a harbinger of things to come in the gun fight, Bloomberg said Wednesday after his meeting with Biden, “I think so.”
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