NRA member Mike Fernandez won't give out money until he sees change.
Republicans received a fresh blow in the wake of the Parkland school shooting as a major South Florida billionaire donor issued an ultimatum: Support gun control or lose funding.
Mike Fernandez, a private equity manager who has given millions to GOP candidates including Gov. Rick Scott, is taking a stand. “I will not give one cent to anyone who does not support major change regarding military-type weapons being sold,” he told reporters at WLRN.
Fernandez, a dues-paying member of the National Rifle Association, also said he will not renew his membership.
This announcement is deja vu, because Fernandez’s ultimatum mirrors that of GOP megadonor Al Hoffman Jr., a Florida real estate developer who bankrolled Jeb Bush’s super PAC. Hoffman is also closing his purse strings to pro-NRA politicians, warning, “There’s a movement coming.”
And this movement is not slowing down. The teenage shooting survivors have whipped up a nationwide social protest. Students everywhere are walking out of schools, over a dozen major corporate partners of the NRA have pulled the plug, and a new poll shows 70 percent of Americans want tougher gun control right now.
But the withdrawal of Florida donors could not have come at a worse time for the Republican Party. Scott, who boasts an “A+” rating from the NRA, was supposed to be their killer candidate to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. Now, he is in hiding, flailing wildly on policy, and the loss of these two donors could wound his fundraising.
Few states are better positioned for a political sea change than Florida. A swing state that went for Trump in 2016, Florida is facing an influx of displaced Puerto Rican voters, a popular ballot measure to expand voting rights, and a series of Democratic special election wins indicating high liberal enthusiasm. Now, the gun control issue appears to have Republicans in the Sunshine State in headlong retreat.
Republicans spent years helping the NRA stonewall the overwhelming majority will of the people on curbing gun violence. Now, at long last, they are paying the price.