Last month, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake broke with his Arizona colleague John McCain to vote against the background check compromise brokered by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Soon after, Caren Teves, the mother of Aurora mass shooting victim Alex Teves, went public with a note she had received from Flake the week before he, well, flaked. In the note, the junior senator wrote that “strengthening background checks is something we agree on.”
On Friday, Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) released an ad featuring Caren Teves that will air in Phoenix and Tucson through the end of the month. In the ad, Teves shows the handwritten letter Flake sent her. “The issue isn’t just background checks,” she says. “It’s keeping your promise. And Senator Flake didn’t.”
Flake has disputed the ad’s claim in a Facebook post. “If you are anywhere close to a television set in Arizona in the coming days, you’ll likely see an ad about gun control financed by NYC Mayor Bloomberg,” he wrote. “Contrary to the ad, I did vote to strengthen background checks,” referring to his vote for the alternate gun amendment introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that included weaker measures to strengthen background checks (and was also voted down).
MAIG and other gun reform groups have vowed to hit Manchin-Toomey opponents hard. Opponents of the compromise have seen their poll numbers drop, and polling by MAIG and other organizations has consistently shown overwhelming support for expanded background checks.
There have been quiet discussions on the Hill about reintroducing an amendment with further concessions to Republicans. But in a meeting with reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that although he’d been in daily talks with senators about bringing background checks back for a vote, the Democrats still didn’t have the 60 votes needed to get it passed. Asked if there were any new supporters, Reid replied, “Maybe.”