Skip to comments.NRA endorsement up for grabs in Montana's Senate race
Posted on 11/21/2011 11:05:54 AM PST by marktwain
The endorsement of a powerful gun-rights group is up for grabs in a key Senate race.
The National Rifle Associations (NRA) decision on whether to endorse Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) or Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg (Mont.) could be the deciding factor in what is expected to be a close contest. Political analysts say that the winner of this election could determine which party will control the Senate in January of 2013.
Tester and Rehberg have strong gun rights voting records. The NRA gives Tester an A grade and Rehberg an A+.
A Montana State University-Billings poll released earlier this month has both candidates tied at 36 percentage points, with about 25 percent undecided.
It is unclear which candidate NRA will back. The gun group did not comment for this article.
Last month, the NRA touted bills authored by Rehberg and Tester. It praised Rehbergs leadership for sponsoring a bill requiring a court, rather than just the Department of Veterans Affairs, to declare a veteran mentally unfit to purchase a gun.
Ten days later, the NRA lauded Tester for his sponsorship of a bill to set aside money to make federal lands more accessible for hunting and other recreation.
David Parker, a political scientist at Montana State University who is writing a book on the race, said interest groups tend to back the candidate from their preferred party if they think it has a chance to win the chamber.
That is good news for Rehberg because the NRA traditionally backs Republicans. "We saw that in 2010 with business groups where they saw the handwriting on the wall and switched to their preferred candidate," Parker said. "It is possible that interest groups like the NRA think that way."
Already sitting in the Senate with a pro-gun record could help Tester counter the possible national implications of the outcome of the race. "Tester has been very in line with the NRA's agenda," said Robert Saldin, a political scientist at the University of Montana. "They are probably in better shape in terms of their agenda if Republicans win back the Senate but I would still be surprised if they endorsed Rehberg."
Another gun group, the Gun Owners of America, has already endorsed Rehberg. John Velleco, the GOAs director of federal affairs, said his group does not care which party wins the Senate "as long as they support the Second Amendment."
But do they think the current Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (Nev.), does?
"Do we like Harry Reid? No," Velleco said. "We opposed him in the last election and unfortunately we were not successful."
Reid does not meet GOA standards, largely based on his confirmation votes, most notably yes votes on Supreme Court Justices nominated by President Obama.
But Reid is widely seen as pro-gun. He has bucked the Obama administration by opposing a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban and even inserted a provision into healthcare reform ensuring that premiums are not higher for gun owners. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre called Reid "a true champion of the Second Amendment," in 2009.
However, Reid and Tester are western state outliers in a Democratic caucus that mostly favors gun control.
While Rehberg is well regarded by the NRA, a Montana hunters group has launched a new ad trying to put a dent in his armor.
The ad criticizes Rehbergs support of H.R. 1505, a bill that would give the Department of Homeland Security more power to secure the border on federal lands. The ad features sportsmen blasting the bill, saying, You know they could fence it off and restrict our access to public lands.
The bill would authorize DHS to build fences, roads and operating bases on federal land. Rehberg inserted an amendment that explicitly prevents DHS from restricting legal uses of land, including hunting.
Asked if Rehbergs support of the bill will hurt him with gun owners, Tester campaign spokesman Aaron Murphy told The Hill, It already has.
Congressman Rehberg still has explaining to do to Montana sportsmen, many of whom are outraged by this bill, Murphy said. If government agents wanted to fence off hunting lands or build roads through Montanas best elk cover, this bill would allow it.
You have to be pro-gun in Montana," Parker, of Montana State University, said. If the frame picks up that Rehberg is for big government, it could hurt him.
The Rehberg campaign pointed out that the group that paid for the ad, the Montana Hunters and Anglers Action, has clear ties to the Democratic Party.
The group's president, Land Tawney, is on Testers sportsmens advisory panel. The groups treasurer consulted for Testers 2006 campaign and two other officials have donated to Tester. According to Tawney, he and other sportsmen founded the group in early October specifically to pressure Rehberg.
This hypocritical attack from some [President] Obama and Tester backers wont hold much water with most Montanans, said Rehberg campaign spokesman Brian Barrett. Especially since Tester voted for a bill that's nearly identical to the one featured in the ad."
Tester did not object to a similar amendment when it passed the Senate with unanimous consent in 2009. The main difference is that the amendment did not waive environmental laws as Rehbergs bill does.
For its part, the group pointed to its members conservation work and commitment to hunting as a source of legitimacy. All of us have been out hunting this fall, Tawney said. It's not something that we view as a pastime. It's something that's a part of us.
Democrats hold a 53-47 advantage in the Senate; Republicans need four seats to grab control of the upper chamber (three if Obama loses).
IMHO the NRA should only endorse candidates when it’s clearly a pro-gun vs. anti-gun candidate. If both candidates are pro-gun, just give us the ratings and the reasons for them, and let the members decide.
Thanks Conrad Burns. Jerk.
I agree. However, I don't think that a candidate that belongs to a political party with an anti-individual liberty ideology should ever be considered a pro-gun candidate.
When push comes to shove, anti-abortion Democrats vote for abortion, Blue Dog Democrats vote for socialism, and gun-rights Democrats will vote for confiscation. It is who they are.
Their voting record of being for gun rights (when their vote isn't critical) in order to be electable means nothing, because when the time comes that their vote is critical, they will vote with the statists.
Agreed. And I fear the National REID Association will go the wrong way on this Montana endorsement, and support another Senator who filibusters GOP picks while loving Kagan, Sotomayor, et al.
I disagree. There is a reason that no gun control laws even made it to a vote in the 2009/2010 Congress. It's because there were enough pro-gun Congressmen and Senators who told the gun-grabbers in the Democrat caucus meetings tht they would vote against them. And yes, that includes Dingy Harry, who never once scheduled a floor vote, and even voted to allow carrying in National Parks. That's why the NRA is well advised to remain a single issue, nonpartisan organization.
The big question, which the article didn’t mention, is how did Tester vote on Obama’s anti-gun Supreme Court nominations.
Yes, the reason is because they were busy passing socialized medicine and didn't want to pick too many fights at the same time. Its called divide and conquer.
Tell me, how did those "pro-gun" Democrats vote on Obama's anti-gun SCOTUS picks, Holder's confirmation, etc.?
As I said, the day that a "pro-gun" Democrat is the deciding vote on firearm confiscation is the day that it will pass.
Do you understand what a canard is?
The NRA thinks that gun rights can stand on their own w/o the rest of the BOR and Constitution. That’s why they give endorsements to the enemies of liberty.
Aside from 2A, the NRA couldn’t give a rat’s a** about the rest of the Constitution. They kind of remind me of all those other Quislings, Lavals etc. throughout history. Those collaborators were always willing to make deals with the enemy.
If I told you that I hate pastry, I think pastry should be illegal, I think foods fried in oil should be illegal, I think non-gluten food is all that should be available, BUT I stand by your right to eat donuts. Would you really feel that your box of Krispy Kreams was safe from my grasp?
Thus is the paradox of the pro-gun Democrat. They just haven't acted on their convictions YET.
As I said, the day that a "pro-gun" Democrat is the deciding vote on firearm confiscation is the day that it will pass.
You nailed it, SampleMan. There is no such thing as a "good Democrat".
They might pretend to be pro-gun, might even vote pro-gun on unimportant issues. But when their vote is needed on the key issues, they will go with the Marxists every time.
If the NRA endorses any Democrat for the House or Senate in 2012, they will never get another nickle from me.
Maybe Tester can ask Harry Reid for some help getting a pork barrel grant for a gun range. It bought NRA’s endorsement of Reid. Should do the trick for Tester too.
The NRA supports candidates who pay lip service to the 2nd Amendment while spending their time in D.C. turning the country into a socialist mess.
If Reid, Tester, and their ilk were truly pro-Second Amendment, they would be calling for Eric Holder’s resignation after the “Fast and Furious” scandal, a botched operation that was intended by the Obama Administration as an excuse to curtail “assault weapons” to “prevent violence.”
The NRA endorsed the congressman from my district, John Barrow (D) in the last two elections and he is a Nancy Pelosi a$$ kisser. I’ve threatened dropping my membership before but have given them one more chance. If they endorse him this time I’m thru with them.
Their aren’t any good Dems or pro gun Dems when it gets down to crunch time. They will always suck up and vote the way Pelosi and Reid demand of them.
The NRA needs to remember there will probably be changes in the SCOTUS over the next presidential term and if the Dems hold the senate you can bet they will not let a pro gun judge on the court. SCOTUS is where your right to own a gun will be taken from you if a conservative justice is replaced by an Obama liberal.
and of course lets not forget testy voted to confirm two sc justices that will vote against the 2nd every chance they get
Wasn’t Burns railroaded?
BTW Tester is not pro-gun. Gun owners of America gives Tester an F!! An F!!! The NRA needs to get with the program. And they damn well need to put the “non-partisan” stuff in the rearview. Pro-Gun democrats support anti-gun rat leadership but they don’t bother to take that into account. Unless the Republican is actually less pro-gun no pro-gun Republican should ever get shafted in favor of a pro-gun rat. Tiebreaker should go to the party that’s not run by nazis.
Irrelevant in this case since Tester is a gun-grabbing liberal liar. A great many allegedly pro-gun and NRA supported rats have D’s or F’s from the GOA. Very interesting. Maybe the GOA is too strict but the NRA is definitely too lax and gives out it’s support like Lindsay Lohan gives out Lindsay Lohan.
Burns was indeed railroaded. He pleaded he was innocent and he absolutely was.
He was involved with Jack Abramoff. IIRC, he was a dead man walking for reelection in 2006 and polling data showed Rehberg beating Tester. If Burns had done the right thing and stepped aside, think of the importance of keeping that Senate seat would have been.
I quit the NRA and joined GOA ~2 years ago. Like you said, the NRA is WAYYYYYYYY to lax and they endorse Rats. No thanks.
“Lindsay Lohan gives out Lindsay Lohan.” Thank you for the laugh!!! :)
The 'A' rating from the NRA for Tester is probably from 2006. IIRC, the NRA doesn't issue new ratings until 1 - 2 months prior to an election, so Tester's rating doesn't reflect his votes to confirm Holder, Kagan and Sotomayor.