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Old March 6, 2013, 03:00 PM   #1
MLeake
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NRA political endorsements

A TFLer has repeatedly accused the NRA of being a Republican organization, manned by Republicans, for Republicans. He challenged me to find Democrats endorsed by the NRA. So, just using two prominent examples at the national level, and then the results from his state and mine:

(Edit: Full disclosure - I started adult life as a registered Democrat, then went Independent, then later Republican; these days, I'm an Independent as far as Missouri election classifications are concerned, but I am a Libertarian by philosophy; I don't really trust either big party. This does not mean that each party does not have general trends when it comes to gun control. For those who doubt that, look at who originated recent laws in NY, MD, OR, WA, CO, CT...)

First, from the "About PVF" page,

Quote:
About PVF
Mission Statement
The NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is NRA's political action committee. The NRA-PVF ranks political candidates - irrespective of party affiliation - based on voting records, public statements and their responses to an NRA-PVF questionnaire.
From the same page,

Quote:
NRA relies on a very simple premise: when provided with the facts, the nation's elected officials will recognize that "gun control" schemes are an infringement on the Second Amendment and a proven failure in fighting crime. The importance of this premise lies in the knowledge that, as one U.S. Congressman put it: "The gun lobby is people."
So, two national level Democrats who have been endorsed by the NRA in recent years:

Harry Reid, Senator, Nevada

John Barrow, Congressman, Georgia

In 2012, in Alaska races, the NRA endorsed two Democrats for State Senate:

Bill Wielechowski (A+ vs his opponent's A) and Donny Olson (A+ vs his opponent's A-);

and three Democrats for State House:

Scott J Kawasaki (A vs B-), Bryce Edgmon (A- vs A-, but got nod as incumbent), and Neal W Foster (A-, unopposed incumbent).

The NRA did endorse a lot more Republicans; however, in all those cases, either the Republican had a better pro-gun rating, or ran unopposed.

So much for gaseousclay's home state.

Meanwhile, in my new home state of Missouri, the NRA endorsed Chris Koster (D) over Ed Martin (R) for Attorney General. Both men had A ratings, but Koster's was based on a voting record; Martin, with no record, received his A based on responses he gave to an NRA questionnaire. The NRA backed the A track record, IE the Democrat.

In the Senate race, the NRA backed Todd Akin, (R) over Claire McCaskill (D), but McCaskill has earned an F rating from the NRA, with good reason. Based on her responses to my emails, thus far, she still backs whatever gun control legislation that survives committee.

In Missouri House races, no Democrat received NRA endorsement. Many of them had no track records, and had not answered the questionnaire. Those with track records had voted badly on gun rights, earning grades from F to C+. One Democratic candidate scored well on the questionnaire (an A) but was running against an incumbent who had an A voting record. As noted, the NRA favors incumbents and established records when tie votes occur.

In Missouri State Senate races, the NRA endorsed two Democrats, Paul LeVota (unopposed A grade), and Terry Swinger (A-). Significantly, Swinger's A- based on an actual voting record beat the A grade Doug Libla (R) had achieved solely based on his questionnaire. So, this was not even a tie, but the NRA favored the positive voting record over the questionnaire even when the voting record score was slightly lower (but still good).

In Missouri State House races, the NRA endorsed five Democrats, including another case where grades tied, but the Democrat had a voting record and the R did not.

So, as percentages go, does the NRA tend to favor Republicans? On the surface, yes, but that is because Republicans are generally more likely to oppose gun control legislation, and less likely to endorse or propose gun control legislation.

We've had some humdingers proposed this year in Missouri, but they have been killed rather quickly. Not surprisingly, they were all proposed by a cabal of Democrats from the St Louis area.

In cases where Democrats have established records of protecting the 2nd Amendment, the NRA has in fact endorsed them. Similarly, in cases where Democrats only had good grades from a questionnaire, they could still gain endorsements if their opponent did not have a proven record.

We could do this state by state, but I have other things to do.

The point is, politicians who establish themselves as pro-Gun will get good NRA grades and will probably get endorsements. Those who consistently vote against gun rights will get bad grades and no endorsements.

The only correlation between NRA grades/endorsements and political parties is that one party tends to pull a lot more anti-gun shenanigans.

Last edited by MLeake; March 6, 2013 at 03:25 PM.
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Old March 6, 2013, 04:49 PM   #2
BarryLee
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Not only do I share your political background, but your opinion on the NRA and their political endorsements. At the end of the day there are supporters of the 2A in both parties and we should not forget that.

However, ask the people of New York and Colorado which party seems to be more opposed to personal freedom and gun rights and the answer is obvious. Also, one of the two main parties had as part of their formal 2012 National Platform support for an AWB and magazine bans. So, no one should be surprised at their actions since they told us before hand what they would do.

While I am concerned when I see the list of speakers at the upcoming NRA Show and wish the list was more diverse in political thought. The reality is we need to support the people who support us while continuing to make efforts to win the others over.
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Old March 6, 2013, 04:50 PM   #3
chiefr
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Agree, the NRA has never been partisan. There are pro gun Democrats.

However, when it comes to agendas, political parties make it clear where they stand on many political issues. Gun control is now an agenda item.

I seriously doubt our founding fathers ever dreamed any of the sacred amendments would evolve into a political issue.
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Old March 6, 2013, 05:28 PM   #4
Glenn E. Meyer
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I think that they argued a tad about slavery - so they were aware of political arguments.

I do agree that the polarization of parties is detrimental to the RKBA as it has made the issue a totem of one group, so the other must oppose it.

I recall this from Hubert Humphrey - a liberal democrat

"The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible." -- Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minnesota)"
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Old March 7, 2013, 09:13 AM   #5
Rifleman1776
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As one who has been on the political scene for over 60 and have assisted many candidates, I can tell you the NRA process is far from perfect. The NRA relies heavily on responses to a questionairre sent to candidates. Anybody can lie with their answers to get a good rating. Voting records are used also but they seem to not weigh as heavily on the NRA position as the questionairre.
Many 'anti' Democrats have been endorsed simply because they said what the NRA wanted to hear.
As far as your "challenge", that could not have been difficult. The endorsements are published in the AR magazine and are on-line.
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Old March 7, 2013, 09:25 AM   #6
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I'm willing to bet they'd endorse nearly anyone over Chris Christie as well. The inverse of the current point is also true. Some (D)'s are pro gun, and some (R)'s are not our friend.

My State is usually the example I use in this sort of debate for either side. My State is blue time after time after time. The last time we sent an (R) to Congress anyone outside the state knew from politics instead of a Lifetime Made for TV special about catching the Green River Killer, it was Slade Gorton and it feels like I was in Grade school.

I live practically in the middle of the three counties with enough (D)s and population to be the figurative tail that wags the dog. But we still have a half dozen or more gun shops within a 30 minute drive, and at least as many public ranges within an hour. (Remember, have to drive further to get rural enough for the outdoor rifle ranges) We have Shall Issue laws here. We don't support that many businesses if the (D)'s don't shoot, and we don't get Shall Issue if they don't want to strap on a pistol too.

Last edited by JimDandy; March 7, 2013 at 09:33 AM.
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Old March 7, 2013, 09:58 AM   #7
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You have to be a student of politics for a long time to see the effects of party over personal leanings of members within a party. There are example upon example of where an individual member of congress went with a party line vote. Voting the party line gets you membership and leadership positions and many other benifits.

As far as how the NRA handles this issue? I assume they understand politics as well as the laws of operating as a lobby for the 2,nd ammendment. I also assume that given these understandings that they are doing what they can do in the manner they are allowed under the laws.

I have no expectation that these circumstances will result in anything that looks like common sense to me.
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Old March 7, 2013, 01:01 PM   #8
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I am a Libertarian who has had reservations about the much too close relationship of the NRA with the GOP, The GOP more or less can take most of the blame for the fraudulent War on Terror, the Patriot Act, etc., though most of the Democratic Party and the GOP are culpable for the erosion of Constitutional rights in the last 3 presidents,
however I have been pleasantly suprised to see a lot of non-partisan actions involving pro-gun Democrats and the like; I am a staunch NRA supporter, however I see a real problem with the way the NRA indirectly (almost directly) suggests who to vote for (typically Repubs); as important as the gun issue is it is not the only factor in choosing a candidate, frankly my feeling with the GOP is they have been throwing people a bone (support of gun rights) while involved and backing numerous major criminal activites of Wall Street, Federal Reserve etc. I don't even believe the GOP will actually continue to support gun rights in the future, hope I'm wrong
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Old March 7, 2013, 01:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
I don't even believe the GOP will actually continue to support gun rights
They (as a collective body) will as long as the Democrats (as a collective body) oppose gun rights. I think it's gotten to the point where they're so busy keeping score, they're not paying attention to what they're scoring on.
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Old March 7, 2013, 11:05 PM   #10
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We run the danger of stepping into partisan politics, and we don't do that here.

That said, MLeake's point is a good one, and it bears repeating: support for the 2A (or lack thereof) is not always tied to one political ideology or the other. We do ourselves a disservice by assuming so.
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Old March 8, 2013, 12:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
...I see a real problem with the way the NRA indirectly (almost directly) suggests who to vote for (typically Repubs); as important as the gun issue is it is not the only factor in choosing a candidate...
First of all, it IS the only factor as far as the NRA is concerned. They are a SINGLE ISSUE association and therefore their recommendations are based exclusively on that SINGLE ISSUE.

If other factors are important to you then you need to get that information elsewhere. You can not get it from the NRA because they only collect and disseminate information based on one factor.

Second, while we all understand that there are many factors that should be considered when choosing a candidate, at TFL we're only going to discuss one of those factors in any great detail because TFL is focused on firearms.
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Old March 8, 2013, 07:05 AM   #12
MLeake
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sunaj, JohnKSa beat me to it: Your criticism of the NRA just proves the point - the NRA is a single-issue organization, politically. Support for the Second Amendment is their only criterion.

The fact that they upset you for the reason you claim is evidence of that.
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Old March 8, 2013, 07:09 AM   #13
MLeake
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Rifleman1776, in EVERY SINGLE case I found, in the two states I looked at, where a questionnaire grade (the NRA indicates grades based solely on the questionnaire by appending a "Q" to the end, EG "AQ" or "CQ") came up against a voting record grade ("A" "B" "F") that was within the same portion of the grading spectrum, the grade based on an actual voting record won.

In every case where two good voting records clashed, the incumbent won. (The NRA isn't stupid; given equal track records, the odds are the incumbent has more influence.)

If you can show cases where questionnaire results, alone, beat proven track records, please do. Otherwise, your claim does not match what I've found so far, in looking into this.
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Old March 8, 2013, 07:19 AM   #14
mayosligo
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NRA political endorsements

It is interesting that even a group like the NRA that sticks to its main objective, regardless if political affiliation will still get dinged for this by a large group of people. More in politics should be this way. I have worked for groups who had their message so spread out it was hard to know what their real purpose was. I would rather know where people stand then have to guess all the time. We have had a number of democrats in Louisiana get the A rating and full support.
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Old March 8, 2013, 07:46 AM   #15
zincwarrior
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Quote:
Agree, the NRA has never been partisan. There are pro gun Democrats.

However, when it comes to agendas, political parties make it clear where they stand on many political issues. Gun control is now an agenda item.

I seriously doubt our founding fathers ever dreamed any of the sacred amendments would evolve into a political issue.
However when you at the speakers at their conventions...oh my.

You want to maintain your gun rights. Introduce two avowed Democrats to firearms. Saying, its a Democratic agenda blah blah blah does nothing but insure your rights will end up on the scrap pile of history. Thats like Democrats saying Republicans are all against the First Amendment. Its nonsense (I see both parties more than willing to try to tell me what to do).

The Bill of Rights knows no party affiliation.
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Old March 8, 2013, 09:21 AM   #16
MLeake
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zincwarrior, find two pro-gun, well-known Democrats and get them to offer their services as speakers. I have no doubt the NRA would love to have them.

I know I would.

I don't doubt that such Democrats exist; the problem is getting them to take a very public stance in opposing their party's line, especially in the setting of an NRA convention.

But if you can find and convince some, that would be great.
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Old March 8, 2013, 09:50 AM   #17
eldermike
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Political realities are not well understood today. A man/woman goes to Washington with a set of foundational beliefs; they may well claim these beliefs to be more important than party ideology. They soon enough learn to play on “the team”. The NRA exists in this reality. I and others would like for some other reality to exists, one that’s more like us. Wishing will not make it so.
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Old March 8, 2013, 12:18 PM   #18
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It is absurd to say you are going to support solely gun rights to the exclusion of every other consideration, Bush brought in the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, etc., leading the Republicans, which are hell bent on turning our society into a fascist state, perhaps an oligarchy ruled by a small elite, etc.,
if that happens these groups will no longer allow you to retain your gun rights in the future (along with most of your other rights), it is a bad position to be in, and in truth their isn't really a dime's worth of difference between the two parties in the long run, they are both corrupt and are bought and paid for by corporations, special interests, etc.,
The only solution is to vote 3rd party, or as Ventura suggests no party at all, or at the least completely reform the party(s),
The only way to secure your gun rights long term and reliably is to make sure the political system we have in office is Constitutional and representative of the people, elections are open, honest and the Bill of Rights is staunchly defended
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Old March 8, 2013, 01:43 PM   #19
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
However when you at the speakers at their conventions...oh my.
David Boren (D-OK) was a guest speaker at either the 2010 or 2011 convention, I forget which. I think the NRA would gladly welcome pro-2A Dems; but the current Dem leadership has created a situation where it is difficult to advance in the party without supporting gun control - and even when they back off for a decade or so, eventually the Dem leadership comes aling and says "Vote for gun control or you will get no funding from us AND face a primary challenger."

Until the Dem leadership is more pro-Second, Dem politicians who genuinely support the Second Amendment are going to be a rare breed - and with the Dem internal party structure, it is going to be very difficult to get the Dem leadership to allow such a thing. Look at Tom Daschle - hosed his own constituents in a rural state rather than cross Dem leadership on gun control and became one of the first sitting Senate Majority leaders in decades to lose an election.
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Old March 8, 2013, 02:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
zincwarrior, find two pro-gun, well-known Democrats and get them to offer their services as speakers. I have no doubt the NRA would love to have them.

I know I would.

I don't doubt that such Democrats exist; the problem is getting them to take a very public stance in opposing their party's line, especially in the setting of an NRA convention.

But if you can find and convince some, that would be great.

Harry Reid is one (admittedly I can't stand him)
heck invite Obama to speak.
Respectfully, that view is a bit of a copout, and partially why we're in this mess now. If you relegate the NRA to one party, it will be treated like it is now. Invite opponents. Get them involved. If they turn it down, that itself is newsworthy.

On the positive this topic made me realize the NRA convention in May is justa few blocks away. I may go there during lunchtime. Excellent!
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Old March 8, 2013, 02:09 PM   #21
JimDandy
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Quote:
It is absurd to say you are going to support solely gun rights to the exclusion of every other consideration, Bush brought in the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, etc., leading the Republicans, which are hell bent on turning our society into a fascist state, perhaps an oligarchy ruled by a small elite, etc.,
As has already been mentioned party hate will likely get this thread closed fast. The hole in your theory is that after the Democrats gained the White House the PAtriot Act and Homeland Security hasn't gone away. I am a member of no political party. I would prefer a zero party system to a two party system. As someone who isn't vesting in keeping score of either side's "victories" I can see both sides getting into our business and freedoms too much from differing directions.
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Old March 8, 2013, 04:23 PM   #22
MLeake
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I personally see both parties, in the whole, as being interchangeable. I suspect some of the issues one side is "for" are simply a result of that party wanting to be the opposite of the "con" side, and not really about the issues themselves.

(Note I did not specify which party, nor which issue.)

I think a lot of what goes on, does so simply to distract us from other realities. While we here focus on gun control, for instance, how many billion dollars in aid get sent to Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan?

So to me it is entirely conceivable that a lot of the gun control fight is political theater to distract the masses, with collusion from both major parties.

That said, the NRA is NOT a political organization, per se, and for sunaj to think it is the job of a pro-gun organization to act as clearinghouse for politics as a whole...

Well, put it another way, I doubt Planned Parenthood endorses many party line Republicans, even though there are many pro-choice Republicans in the US; the party line types will not be openly pro-choice, unless they are willing to relegate themselves to never having influential committee positions and to enduring primary challenge after primary challenge. I don't fault Planned Parenthood for that reality.

Similarly, sunaj et al should not fault the NRA if (at present) most pro-gun politicians are Republicans.

How much of that is due to true individual beliefs, or to truly held party beliefs, or merely to the role chosen in that particular bit of battle theater by each party's leadership is another issue, entirely.
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Old March 8, 2013, 04:27 PM   #23
MLeake
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zincwarrior, a copout? Really?

Do you suggest that pro-1A organizations should invite would-be book banners and book burners as keynote speakers?

Do you suggest that LGBT organizations should ask for speakers from Westboro Baptist?

It is not particularly common for advocacy groups to invite opposition speakers, unless they are hosting a debate. I don't care what issue you bring up, this will hold true.

So, again, if you can think of some pro gun Dems you'd like to have as speakers, try to get them.

If you really want to try to get Eric Holder, then you need to sell the NRA on the idea of a debate as a reason to hold an event.
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Old March 8, 2013, 06:29 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLeake
I think a lot of what goes on, does so simply to distract us from other realities. While we here focus on gun control, for instance, how many billion dollars in aid get sent to Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan?

So to me it is entirely conceivable that a lot of the gun control fight is political theater to distract the masses, with collusion from both major parties.
This is exactly correct, as far as I'm concerned, except I'd phrase it "...distract and divide the masses..."

Quote:
That said, the NRA is NOT a political organization, per se, and for sunaj to think it is the job of a pro-gun organization to act as clearinghouse for politics as a whole...
This, not so much. It is considered a political organization: a PAC (political action committee), to be exact. It just happens to be a one-issue political organization. OpenSecrets.org has some good information on where their money goes; some of it may surprise you.
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Old March 8, 2013, 06:38 PM   #25
MLeake
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Vanya, of course you are correct, but what I meant in context was that the NRA is not a political organization in the sense of the Republican, Democratic, Socialist, Green, Libertarian, Bull Moose, or ENGSOC parties (ok, the last was fictional).

The NRA is, as you said, a single issue PAC.
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