NRA Rejects Harry Reid

The NRA Yesterday announced that they weren’t going to endorse Harry Reid. Pretty big news.

In the coming days and weeks, the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) will be announcing endorsements and candidate ratings in hundreds of federal races, as well as thousands of state legislative races. Unless these announcements are required by the timing of primary or special elections, the NRA-PVF generally does not issue endorsements while important legislative business is pending. The NRA-PVF also operates under a long-standing policy that gives preference to incumbent candidates who have voted with the NRA on key issues, which is explained in more detail here. The U.S. Senate recently considered a number of issues important to NRA members, including the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Out of respect for the confirmation process, the NRA did not announce its position on Ms. Kagan’s confirmation until the conclusion of her testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee. Her evasive testimony exacerbated grave concerns we had about her long-standing hostility towards the Second Amendment. As a result, the NRA strongly opposed her confirmation and made it clear at the time that we would be scoring this important vote. The vote on Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the Court, along with the previous year’s confirmation vote on Sonia Sotomayor, are critical for the future of the Second Amendment. After careful consideration, the NRA-PVF announced today that it will not be endorsing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for re-election in the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Nevada. NRA members and other interested parties are encouraged to visit www.NRAPVF.org for more information as Election Day draws near.

The NRA has a sometimes annoying policy of of supporting incumbents over the  challengers if the incumbent is reasonably supportive of the NRA agenda.  Harry Reid has been mostly supportive, and bills such as the National Parks carry couldn’t have happened without his support.  If Republicans do not win the Senate, we could likely get a a Senate Majority Leader who is a lot less gun friendly than Harry Reid. The decision for the NRA was difficult. Sharon Angle doesn’t have much of a record on second amendment issues, and she hasn’t said much about it. NRA director Charles Cotton blogged about the issue and the tough decision.

The media are abuzz about the NRA’s presumed endorsement of Nevada Senator Harry Reid.  However, the NRA has not endorsed Harry Reid.  Most of the time people who support the Second Amendment also support conservative values, so it’s relatively rare that we have a voting dilemma in supporting pro-gun candidates. This is precisely why the majority of pro-gun elected officials are Republicans and why most newly elected Democrats in Congress are considered “blue-dog” pro-gun Democrats.  Hopefully, this will change and we will see more Democrats supporting the Second Amendment.  I’d love to see the day when gun rights are absolutely safe regardless who is in power in Washington or Austin, so we can fight over abortion, taxes, school vouchers, immigration, prayer in school, and numerous other issues that will surely divide us. Unless we make guns a do-or-die issue above everything else, that day will never come. Politicians and Party leaders need to know that, no matter how divided we may be on other issues, we will come together to defend the Second Amendment and that we will vote “guns” above anything else.

The NRA has a “friendly noncombatant” policy that is crucial to its success. No offense intended, but anyone who thinks this policy is not absolutely necessary simply does not know how politics works in the real world.   As soon as an organization abandons someone who supports its programs, legislation and goals, that organization has lost power in Washington (or Austin). Reliability is just as important in politics as in combat.  If an elected official who votes as you want them to vote (even against his Party’s position) can’t depend upon your support during tough times as well as the good times, then you have lost influence not only with that politician, but with all elected officials.  Betrayal is a message that travels quickly through the halls of congress and its impact is both lasting and devastating.

Harry Reids major sin was in his support and vote for Kagan, and Sotomayor as Supreme Court justices.  This was an uncomfortable choice for the NRA. If the Republicans don’t take the Senate or the House, and Reid loses our RKBA advocacy will take a big hit.

No Lawyers only Guns and money suggest that they know what they are doing.

Given that the NRA’s Chris Cox and Wayne LaPierre are about as Washington Insider as it comes, the non-endorsement of Reid is recognition of two things. First, that the membership would rise up in protest if Harry Reid were endorsed. Second is the recognition that the tide against the status quo is so strong that most who get in its way will get wiped out. Just ask Republican incumbents like Robert Bennett, Bob Inglis of South Carolina, and quite probably, Lisa Murkowski.

Charlie Cook of the Cook Report is one of the best political handicappers in Washington. He has called this election a “wave election” akin to the 1994 Republican landslide. I think he is quite accurate in his description of it. When one looks at the number of political outsiders who have taken on the establishment and won by fighting a guerrilla war, it is astounding – and that is just in the primaries to date. The NRA is not an agile organization but it is smart enough to recognize reality when it is staring it in the face. Harry Reid is in trouble and they don’t want to go down with the ship.

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