Ban Assault Weapons Now (BAWN) is endorsing Democratic Senate candidates Javier Fernández and Tina Polsky as part of its first round of state legislative endorsements.
BAWN, a gun control advocacy group, is also backing three Democratic House candidates ahead of the Aug. 18 primary. The organization will support Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky as she competes for the Democratic nomination in House District 96. Incumbent Democratic Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith also secured endorsements from the group as they prepare for their respective general election matchups.
Fernández is competing against Daniel Horton-Diaz for the Democratic nod in Senate District 39. The race is one of the most competitive in the state this cycle, as it represents a chance for Democrats to nab a seat from Republicans with incumbent GOP Sen. Anitere Flores being term-limited.
“BAWN and its chairwoman, Gail Schwartz, have played a pivotal role in highlighting the need for common-sense gun reform since the tragedy at MSD in 2018,” Fernández said in a Tuesday statement.
“I am grateful for their support in this race and look forward to working with them to realize much needed reforms in Tallahassee.”
The SD 39 contest also features Republican candidate Ana Maria Rodriguez and non-party affiliated candidate Celso Alfonso.
In Senate District 29, BAWN will back Polsky as she battles former Rep. Irv Slosberg for the Democratic nomination. Polsky is seeking the seat after one term in the House. Though the SD 29 seat only opened up in May, it’s already become one of the most expensive races in the state.
First-time candidate Brian Andrew Norton also qualified for the race as a Republican. The Democratic nominee will be heavily favored come November, however.
“I am honored to have BAWN’s endorsement,” Polsky said Tuesday. “In the State Senate, one of my main priorities will be accomplishing our shared goal of banning assault weapons in Florida once and for all. Waiting until the next mass shooting to discuss banning these weapons of war is not a legitimate option – we must take action now.”
The organization will send mailers to voters in both Senate districts, pushing voters to support Fernández and Polsky.
Hunschofsky is running against Saima Farooqui in the HD 96 Democratic primary, though Hunschofsky has easily been the better fundraiser and has secured widespread support from Democratic lawmakers. Write-in candidate Muhammad Amin has also qualified.
Hunschofsky served as Parkland Mayor during the 2018 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.
Eskamani is unopposed on the Democratic side in House District 47. The same is true for Smith in House District 49. Both will face a Republican challenger in November, however.
“These candidates have a history of pushing for common-sense gun safety reforms,” said Schwartz, who serves as BAWN’s chairwoman.
“We know they will lead the movement for an assault weapons ban by building consensus on this critical issue among their colleagues in order to pass legislation making all of us safer. We are proud to support them in any way we can.”
BAWN backed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban assault weapons which would have appeared on the 2020 ballot. The Supreme Court rejected the language in that amendment. BAWN has since used its cash to support gun control advocates in state legislative races.
Another round of legislative endorsements is coming soon, according to the organization.