Democrats who get the NRA’s nod

Posted on October 7, 2010

National Rifle Association

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So far the National Rifle Association has come out supporting 58 incumbent Democrats running in  the November elections.  The best news: Harry Reid isn’t one of them.  Unfortunately, neither is Sharron Angle. 

From the Washington Post:

So far this year, the NRA has endorsed 58 incumbent House Democrats, including more than a dozen in seats that both parties view as critical to winning a majority.

The endorsements aren’t the result of a sudden love for a party with which the NRA is often at odds. Rather, the powerful group adheres to what it calls “an incumbent-friendly” policy, which holds that if two candidates are equally supportive of gun rights, the incumbent gets the nod.

The policy has been in place for some time, and the NRA has always backed a number of Democrats, but the group’s choices have become especially contentious this year because control of Congress is at stake and because so many gun-supporting Democrats were elected over the past four years.

 I don’t know if I agree with the policy of supporting the the incumbent over the challenger as the default choice, especially when the incumbent might have party leadership which is NOT particularly gun friendly, regardless of the individual congressperson’s views.  After all, what good would it do to have a small minority of pro-gun Democrats in the majority party when their anti-gun leadership and like-thinking Democrats will set the agenda and just override their pro-gun stance? 

 Why not support as many pro-gun Republicans, even if they are newcomers, to try to guarantee the majority party is the one whose leadership is pro-gun?

Apparently that argument was tried and the NRA didn’t bite:

In South Dakota, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) got the NRA’s endorsement even though her opponent, Kristi Noem (R), has made her fondness for hunting a prominent part of her campaign.

Noem’s campaign manager, Joshua Shields, said that regardless of Herseth Sandlin’s record on gun issues, she would still support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), “one of the most anti-gun speakers Congress has ever had.”

“We made that argument to the NRA,” Shields said. “Obviously it didn’t work.”

The fallout of it all? As the Post story reports, the Democrats receiving endorsements from the NRA are using it to firm up their “independent thinking” bona fides.  The can use the NRA’s support to distance themselves from their anti-gun leadership which is a plus in the wake of an expected Republican wave in November.  On the flip side, Republicans who are pro-gun and didn’t get the NRA’s nod are left trying to explain why they didn’t measure up.   Neither of these scenarios play well for Republicans.

The Democrats listed who are getting the NRA’s support include: Reps. Betsy Markey (CO), Harry Teague (NM), Chet Edwards (TX), Allen Boyd (FL), Earl Pomeroy (ND.), Debbie Halvorson (IL), Paul E. Kanjorski (PA), John Boccieri (OH),  Reps. Rick Boucher (VA),  Glenn Nye (VA),  Rep. Frank M. Kratovil Jr. (MD), Zack Space (OH),  and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD). 

There are more listed on the NRA’s site under the News and Alerts section.  You might be surprised by what you find, I know I certainly was.  John Dingell?  Really, NRA, Dingell?