Washington (CNN) – While much of Washington's attention is on the various controversies involving the IRS, the Benghazi attack and the Justice Department subpoena of the Associated Press, those on both sides of the gun control debate are engaged in trying to sway public opinion.
Much of the focus right now is on New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the only member of the U.S. Senate from New England to vote against the proposal pushed by her colleagues, Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), to expand background checks for gun purchases.
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Several gun control groups have aired ads criticizing Ayotte for her vote. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, backed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is spending about $650,000 for a two-week ad buy in Manchester, New Hampshire and the Boston markets.
The mayors group held an event on Thursday in New Hampshire with survivors of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting and others highlighting her vote. Earlier this month, Ayotte faced pressure at several town halls in her state–some of it coming in part with the help of the mayors group–to defend her stance on background checks.
Ayotte, though, is fighting back. In an email to supporters Thursday, she wrote: "Michael Bloomberg and his liberal allies think their $700,000 smear campaign will pressure me into changing my vote on the Manchin-Toomey gun control bill. They couldn't be more wrong. As a mother, I am 100 percent dedicated to fighting gun violence. But I also have the experience to know that expanding an already broken background check system will not prevent a deranged individual or criminal from obtaining and misusing firearms. "
She also used the email to solicit funds: "Bloomberg and company can spend as much as they'd like distorting my record and smearing my character, but I won't back down. Will you stand with me and help me fight back by making an emergency donation of $25, $50, $100 or more right away?"
Ayotte is getting some help. The conservative group American Future Fund has just put in another $350,000 for a TV buy through May 27 in support of the New Hampshire senator. The group has added the Boston market in addition to Manchester where it was already on the air. AFF just expanded their buy by an additional $350,000, bringing the total to $550,000.