The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Why the NRA Might Endorse Harry Reid Over Sharron Angle


Over in the Corner, Jonathan Adler wonders how in the world the NRA could contemplate endorsing Harry Reid.

The bottom line is, Reid is good on guns and has helped the organization many times, particularly since he became Senate majority leader. And that is the group’s sole criterion:

The NRA-PVF is non-partisan in issuing its candidate grades and endorsements. We do not base our decisions on a candidate’s party affiliation, but rather on his or her record on Second Amendment issues. The NRA is a single issue organization. The only issues on which we evaluate candidates seeking elected office are gun-related issues. While there are many issues a candidate must address with voters, and while voters evaluate a number of non-gun-related issues in factoring which candidate they will support or oppose, NRA-PVF’s sole criteria in issuing grades and endorsements is a candidate’s position on gun-related issues.

With four million NRA members and 80 million gun owners in the country, our constituency is diverse in its views on multiple issues of our day. However, we are all united in our support of the Second Amendment and our opposition to the notion that passing more laws that negatively impact law-abiding gun owners will reduce crime. For us to divide that otherwise united base of support on non-firearm-related issues would be strategically foolish.

NRA has an incumbent-friendly policy that dictates our support for pro-gun incumbents seeking reelection. It is important that we stand with our friends who stand with us in Congress or the state legislature through their actions. Of course, should a pro-gun challenger win his election, and stay true to support for our gun rights, then he will be the beneficiary of this policy when seeking re-election.

Believe me, I’ve had this sort of discussion many times. An argument put to me is that the Second Amendment would be better protected with a Senate that had, say, 52 Democrats led by pro-gun Harry Reid than 51 Democrats led by the most likely alternatives, Chuck Schumer or Dick Durbin. Since the chances of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell are not great, it is in the best interest of the NRA and its members to have the most pro-gun Democratic Senate majority leader they can get.

That’s an argument. Ultimately, I don’t agree with it, because I’m not a single-issue voter. I cringe (or worse) when I see bad, ineffective liberal Democrats garnering the NRA endorsement (COUGHtedstricklandCOUGH), but the NRA has its policy and criteria, and they stick to them consistently, even if it means irritating some conservative Nevada gun owners.

Tags: Harry Reid , Sharron Angle


Subscribe to National Review