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Bloomberg-backed group, Va. Tech victim's brother hit Fimian in new ad

Ben Pershing

Updated 1:57 p.m.
The debates over gun control and the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre are making a late entry into the heated contest between Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) and Oakton businessman Keith Fimian (R) in Virginia's 11th district.

A group called Americans United for Safe Streets is on the air with an ad -- funded by donations from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) -- featuring Omar Samaha, the brother of Virginia Tech victim Reema Samaha. The spot shows Omar Samaha castigating Fimian because he "won't take a stand" to close the "gun show loophole":

"I know that closing the loophole won't bring Reema back. The question is: Whose sister is next?" Omar Samaha says. "Ask Keith Fimian why he's protecting criminals, instead of protecting us."

Fimian's campaign had not responded to a request for comment as of this posting.

Americans United for Safe Streets filed with the Federal Election Commission for the first time Wednesday, reporting that it had received a single donation of $153,000 from Bloomberg and was
spending all of it on the anti-Fimian campaign. The group, organized under section 527 of the tax code, normally files its reports with the IRS. Those reports show the group has received just $1,500 in itemized donations this cycle from people other than Bloomberg, who has donated a total of $1.5 million.

AUSS ran a nearly identical ad against Robert McDonnell (R) in the 2009 Virginia governor's race.

Activist groups have lobbied hard to close the so-called gun show loophole, under which private sales between non-dealers at gun shows do not require purchasers to undergo criminal background checks. Supporters of gun rights argue that very few guns involved in crimes are purchased this way, and that the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung Hui Cho, did not obtain his weapons from a gun show.

Connolly, meanwhile, also is seeking to hit Fimian on the Virginia Tech issue. The Democrat's campaign is highlighting an interview Fimiam did with DC50 in which he says, "I think that at Virginia Tech, if one of those kids in one of those classrooms was packing heat, I think that would not have happened. ... The perpetrator of that crime would have thought twice before walking into a classroom if he thought there was any chance of someone being armed and preventing him from doing that."

Fimian is not alone in making that argument, and backers of gun rights often suggest that more armed citizens would provide a deterrent to crime. But Democrats are betting that the Republican candidate's position won't resonate in the moderate suburbs of the 11th district. "Fimian's extremist agenda couldn't be more out-of-sync with Northern Virginia values," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Jesse Ferguson.

Connolly and his allies have also sought to draw attention to Fimian's positions other social issues, including his opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research, while Fimian has tried to keep the focus on economic issues and the budget deficit.

By Ben Pershing  | October 28, 2010; 10:39 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Gerald E. Connolly, Keith Fimian, Virginia Tech massacre  
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Next: Updated: Va. officials react to death of former congressman Pickett


‘‘I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.’’
‘‘To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.’’

— George Mason

Posted by: FedUp8 | October 28, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

There are clearly at least 2 sides to this issue; gun control is a controversial, polarizing political topic. Gun control aside, people like Omar Samaha and Colin Goddard (intimately connected to the VT shooting though they may be), are taking an event that had a deep, permanent, and personal affect on 27,000 students, their friends and families, and lasting national effects; and they are using it to pursue a controversial political end. They're doing so without consulting the families of most of the 32 dead victims, the others wounded, the others in the rooms, the 27,000 students, or the friends and family of those affected; they're doing so individually and personally with "I was directly affected by the events at Virginia Tech" as their sole argument. And because this was a national tragedy that's had a permanent impact on not only 27,000 VT community members and their friends and families, but also on college campuses as a whole, "I was directly affected by the events at Virginia Tech" is an untouchable statement. Omar and Colin realize this, and for that reason, using it as individuals to pursue a controversial political agenda is wrong.

Posted by: joe_hokie | October 28, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I am so sorry for all the families who lost loved ones at Virginia Tech, but even when Mr.Fimian replaces Mr. Connolly, he will not be in a position to change Virginia gun laws. This ad and the DCCC ads about abortion on the radio are nothing more than desperation. The question in this race remains the same in VA's 11th and indeed across the nation. If you like the direction the country is headed in, with a lagging economy and high unemployment and no policies in place to encourage any improvement in either, vote for Connolly. If you agree with more than 2/3 of Americans and you think the country is on the wrong track vote Fimian--it is the only sane thing to do.

Posted by: lleatwo | October 29, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Gerry Connolly is concerned since he can't run on his record of tax increases and being one of Nancy Pelosi's butt boys.

Posted by: priveye | October 29, 2010 4:36 AM | Report abuse

Another red herring dragged out by "Desperate Gerry." The VT shooter already had broken every gun law in the books, hence the "loophole" was totally irrelevant in this case. The real Cho enabler was Political Correctness Privacy Rights advocacy so highly prized by Gerry Connolly's Leftist backers. The Privacy Rights laws created by Liberals set up a literal firewall which contained and kept in place the tragic madness of the shooter.

Posted by: mirabeaulamarr | October 29, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

My Iranian friend told me that the oppressive Iranian government was able to mercilessly crush opposition protests because the IRANIAN PEOPLE HAVE NO WEAPONS. Their totalitarian government has them all. The Iranian people have no way to contain the madness of the regime they live under and which threatens the whole world and Israel in particular!

Posted by: Scarlette_0 | October 29, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

FedUp8 puts it in a nutshell by quoting George Mason. Well said FedUp8! The imposter Republican Bloomberg thinks his money can buy anything. November 2nd will prove him wrong! Keith Fimian will be the next U.S. Congressman representing Virginia's 11th District and constituents of the 11th District can stand tall and proud.

Posted by: alitip | October 29, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Bloomberg is NOT a Republican. He ran as a Republican once upon a time, but he has since changed his party affiliation to "independent." (See NYT, June 19, 2007.) Leave it to the Washington Compost to get even this wrong.

Posted by: biaswatcher | October 30, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm disappointed at the misleading nature of the ad. Not technically inaccurate, but misleading. A casual viewer (who has long forgotten the precise facts) clearly would take away the impression that Seung Hui Cho's purchase was at a gun show without appropriate background checks. It fuels impressions that the arguments of certain anti-gun groups/activists should be regarded with great suspicion. I'd be more impressed if Omar Samaha was expending his energy on campus communications... should have been minutes after the officer's arrival at the dorm that the VT police were on the phone to WUVT urging broadcast of a bulletin that a gunman was at large on campus.

Posted by: Scrawler | November 1, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

It is really sad that Connolly had to exploit the grief of this person to make political points. Proud day for Democrats to get this
slimeball elected. Bloomberg is about as much a Republican as Connolly is a moderate. The sad truth of the Tech tragedy is the school did not its job, that nut should have been tossed out months before the shooting, VA Tech and the gov. at the time, Tim Kaine, should have taken responsibility, blaming it on a lack of gun control is just another case of a Democrat refusing to take responsibility.

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | November 3, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

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