Despite the rumors, the National Rifle Association didn’t end up endorsing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (they decided to stay out of the Nevada Senate race). But 58 congressional Democrats did get the gun-rights group’s nod for November. As the Washington Post reported last week, this includes some incumbents in key districts Republicans need to win to retake Congress. This includes Reps. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) and Tom Perriello (D-Va.), despite their pro-gun GOP challengers.
“There is no more anti-Second Amendment vote than a vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker,” Charles Hurt, Perriello’s Republican opponent, told the Post. But there are two reasons for what might seem like a large number of Democratic endorsements: Democrats have dropped their support for gun control, especially in conservative-leaning, gun-owning districts, since the 2006 elections; the NRA also has an incumbent’s policy, meaning that if two candidates are considered relatively pro-gun, they’ll usually back the sitting member.
Of course, there have been exceptions to this policy: the NRA has endorsed against longtime allies when they have voted for big-ticket gun control items in the past. The NRA is a gun group, not a pro-Republican organization. But some of these decisions have irritated its partners in the conservative movement, as I noted in a recent piece for the print magazine.