Erick Erickson at Redstate:
Multiple sources tell me the National Rifle Association is planning to endorse liberal Harry Reid against pro-gun champion Sharron Angle.
Two weeks ago, I told you about the carveout the NRA received in exchange for their support for the DISCLOSE ACT deal.
Then this week, RedState broke the story of the “gag order” the NRA issued to members of its Board on the Kagan nomination.
Now, I’m getting credible reports that the NRA is leaning toward endorsing Harry Reid, even though the NRA is finally saying it will score a vote on Kagan — something that was not a sure thing.
Why would they do this? Why would they go out of their way to protect a Senator who has demonstrated a repeated hostility to the Second Amendment in his votes and his leadership?
Well, I thought perhaps the NRA carveout in the DISCLOSE Act might be the answer. But, there is more. It turns out, Reid secured a $61 million earmark for a gun range in Clark County, Nevada.
NRA members were recently treated to a three-page spread in the American Rifleman about a visit to Nevada by Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox to “thank” Reid for the earmark. The article even includes a cliché picture of Reid cutting a ribbon with a gigantic pair of scissors. (Every good porker has his own giant pair of gold earmark scissors.) More here.
Here is a video of the event from Reid’s youtube site.
At 3:25, you can hear LaPierre touting Reid’s record on guns saying, “I also want to thank you, Senator, for your support every day for the Second Amendment and for the rights of American gun owners. “
The American Rifleman article also commends Reid’s Second Amendment record noting, “His dedication to this project is just one of the ways Sen. Reid has demonstrated his support for gun owners and the Second Amendment.”
Well, that’s all very nice. What politician representing a pro-gun red state wouldn’t want Wayne LaPierre to come out for a personal photo op at their earmark ribbon cutting.
John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:
The NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, told THE WEEKLY STANDARD this evening that the pro-gun rights group has not decided on an endorsement in the Nevada Senate race.
“Any discussion on endorsements at this stage are premature, and simply a distraction,” said Cox. But he wouldn’t rule out an NRA endorsement for Harry Reid–even though Reid will almost certainly vote in favor of confirming Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. The NRA released a letter today explaining why it opposes Kagan and would score how senators vote on her confirmation. But Cox said that “we look at the entirety of someone’s record” before making an endorsement.
The NRA is frightened by the possibility that Harry Reid would be replaced by an anti-gun Democrat as majority leader. “Truthfully, the two individuals vying for majority leader should Harry Reid lose are the two most rabidly anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment senators in Washington, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin,” Cox said. “Does that give concern to NRA members and gun owners all over America? Absolutely, it does.”
But wouldn’t the House be able to stop legislation the NRA opposes? “That’s all hypothetical,” Cox replied, adding that Durbin and Schumer have a “long history of supporting rabid anti-gun groups and their extreme gun control agendas. Anyone who discounts the role of a Senate majority leader … would do so at their own peril.”
I’d add that it might be especially important to them to have Reid there right now in the wake of the Supreme Court’s latest decision on gun rights. I fully expect crime will drop as gun bans in major cities like Chicago are relaxed (a bit), but there are a lot of variables that go into that and the NRA surely knows that an aggressively anti-gun majority leader will look to capitalize if violence ticks upward anywhere initially. Reid, because he has to worry about votes in rural Nevada, is a better bet than Schumer or Durbin not to bring anything too dicey to the Senate floor. Then again, it’s a mortal lock that the GOP will have more seats next year than they do now. Given the terror felt by moderates like Olympia Snowe after Bob Bennett was ousted by tea partiers in Utah, how would any sort of anti-gun bill avoid a filibuster? Reid struggled for weeks to get to 60 on financial reform despite having 59 seats; how’s he going to get to 60 on a new assault-weapons ban when he has only 53 or 54?
What’s worrisome about this rumor, actually, is that it may show how little confidence the NRA has in an Angle victory. She’s up seven at last check, but the kookier elements of her resume have been trickling out from lefty media. Wait until late summer when Reid turns on the advertising hose full force. Maybe LaPierre and co. figure there’s no sense in antagonizing a guy whom they think is bound to win. It’ll be interesting to see if they end up simply avoiding this race altogether and endorsing no one.
Jonathan Adler at The Corner:
I can understand why the NRA sometimes endorses Democratic candidates despite the party’s general hostility to gun rights; having friends in both parties can be politically advantageous. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid? When his challenger fully supports gun rights? That one would be hard to believe, but it might happen.
Jim Geraghty at NRO:
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 ofSenate 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 DemocraticSenate 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.
The NRA has joined Peggy Noonan and the AARP on the list of sellouts.
UPDATE: Alex Pareene at Salon