October 8th, 2010
01:40 PM ET
10 years ago

NRA Endorses Candidates on Both Sides, Frustrating GOP

Fairfax, VA (CNN) - Republicans are pressing their supporters to pull out the stops in the effort to retake the House in November's elections, but one of their frequent allies – the National Rifle Association – is still endorsing candidates in either party.

The gun-rights group has endorsed over 200 Republican candidates for Congress, but it has also endorsed 64 Democrats – including a number of incumbents who Republicans believe may be vulnerable, like Chet Edwards in Texas, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota, and Tom Perriello in Virginia.

Among Republicans, "there's just a frustration right now, because you're in a lot of really heated races at this point," says former GOP Congressman Tom Davis, who once headed the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Republicans felt that the NRA was part of their coalition."

A spokesman for the NRA explained that the organization uses only the issue of gun-owners rights to endorse candidates, regardless of party. And if two opposing candidates earn the same rating, the association generally favors the incumbent.

For example, in South Dakota's congressional race, both the Democrat and the Republican candidate received a grade of "A" on gun-owners rights, but the NRA website lists an endorsement for the Democrat – an incumbent.

Some Republicans believe the NRA is missing a larger strategic opportunity to defeat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – a Democrat who favors gun control. "The NRA is Helping Preserve the Anti-Gun Democrat Majority," said a recent posting on redstate.com.

But Davis says the organization needs to pay back the incumbents, in either party, who went to bat for it on issues like not reviving the assault-weapons ban. And it's wise not to place all your eggs in one basket, he says.

"The NRA has figured out - why own one party, when you can own both parties?"

The National Rifle Association boasts around four million members, and has a substantial campaign war chest, with $15 to $20 million earmarked for spending on the 2010 cycle. It has also produced ads supporting at least seven Republicans, in Senate, House, and gubernatorial races.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the group has donated $169,500 to Democratic and $350,550 to Republican Congressional campaigns this cycle. Of the ten candidates who got the most, four are Democrats.

Its endorsement of several Democrats facing tough re-election fights, highlighted recently in National Review and the Washington Post, could help some of those embattled Democrats stave off defeat, according to CNN senior political editor Mark Preston – particularly in races in the West and the South, and in rural areas.

"Republicans are going to go out and try to label all these Democrats 'Nancy Pelosi Democrats,' " said Preston: "If you have the NRA's backing, you can say, I'm not a 'Nancy Pelosi Democrat,' I'm a Democrat that represents you."

But if the Republicans do win control of the House, could the NRA's support for losing Democrats come back to haunt it?

"I think there will be kiss-and-make-up time when this is over," said Davis.

Filed under: 2010 • Democratic Party • NRA • Republican Party
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. vic nashville tn

    Thanks NRA
    GOP only talks
    Many GOP candidates become members of NRA when they decide to run Democrats not like that
    This is one reason I quit republican party

    October 8, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. 25 Days until Socialism dies in the United States

    How dumb of the NRA. I know they want to hedge their bets but these DemocRATS will sell them down the tubes in the blink of an eye if Pelosi told them to.

    October 8, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. LouAz

    This is not news. The NRA is a single issue "group". They support anyone that stands by the 2nd Ammendment. There is no current threat to the 2nd, but they are practically foaming at the mouth in their literature and speeches that the sky is falling.

    October 8, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |

    Three cheers for the NRA! The truth is out, democrats don't want your guns. It's all been more hype and lies by the GOP. The NRA is Not a branch of the GOP like the GOP thought. The NRA also supports democrats. The GOP thinks they own the NRA and the NRA showed the GOP that they don't. There's plenty of democrats who believe in gun ownership, including one of the most hated democrats by the GOP, Harry Reid. So there!

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    October 8, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. D=stand for moving forward

    Get ready Tea Party it's call "compromise or negotiate". You have to get use to saying it. That's how our government works The NRA plays both sides for sucker to block the "Disclosure Act".

    October 8, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. LacrosseMom(real one)

    200 Republicans have been endorsed by the NRA versus ....64 Democrats. What else is new?

    October 8, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. T'SAH from Virginia

    "Some Republicans believe the NRA is missing a larger strategic opportunity to defeat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – a Democrat who favors gun control. "The NRA is Helping Preserve the Anti-Gun Democrat Majority," said a recent posting on redstate.com."

    This is FUNNY!!! I did not know that the NRA supported any Democrats!!! The RepubliCAN'Ts feel they OWN the NRA!!!!! The Fear coming from the RIGHT is so amazing!!! They really belive that their little toys are going to get taken away when it's NEVER going to happen!!! They know that but yet they still keep putting that fear in American's minds!!!

    So their plan is to "...go out and try to label all these Democrats 'Nancy Pelosi Democrats,' " said Preston: "If you have the NRA's backing, you can say, I'm not a 'Nancy Pelosi Democrat,' I'm a Democrat that represents you."

    Thisi is so pathetic – WHINERS!!!

    T'is T'SAH from Virginia and I approve this message!!

    October 8, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. disenchanted taxpayer

    The NRA rates right next to AARP ... both worthless sellouts to the political will of DC. Both have lost my support as well as business supporting the agenda of this Congress and Administration. Bah to both !!!

    October 8, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. james smith

    I agree with the nra because not all Gop rep have supported there cause, so I think that they are doing the right thing because u should never put all your eggs in one basket.

    October 8, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Former Republican - Now Independent

    Pro-gun Democrat candidates taking away NRA support from Republican candidates – sounds like a GOP nightmare to me.

    October 8, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. RichP, easton, pa

    No longer one party or the other, research research research before voting, if both choices are poor don't just settle for the less stinky one, look at the libertarian side. It would be a good thing to have a few people in there that can put the brakes on some of the really consistently stupid things BOTH parties do.

    October 8, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. carlos

    wrong cnn....chet edwards is beating this plant flores in texas, besides, flores in english is flowers but he is really a thorn........another thing, spanish voters will not fall for this trap because they are smarter than the tea tards, talipublicans, CONServatives.......fellow TEXANS vote democrat because if you vote repugnnt, count your days and Pray because your tomorrow will not be guaranteed.....VAYAN CON DIOS!!!!!!!

    October 8, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. carlos

    the NRA folks are also smarter than the talipublican LITTER

    October 8, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. "I Want My Country Back" Libs Go Home

    The NRA is on very shaky ground as far as I am concerned; We warned them not to endorse Reid in Nevada and they backed off, but they keep wanting to play both sides. They say, "if a Senator has a good score w/the NRA against gun control, we will endorse them." But what the NRA fails to remember is this; it is the Liberal Dems who always stick together with whatever their annointed leaders say.....they will do and say anything to get reelected. I do not trust any Democrat who says they are anti-gun control because they will change it on a whim!
    Listen NRA, you almost lost 1000's of Life time supporters when you threatened to endorse Reid and you saw the handwriting on the wall....but keep on endorsing these Liberal Democrats and you will certainly lose us! If you do not believe this, just ask AARP????!!!!

    A Tea Partier

    October 8, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Just goes to show that the NRA is bipartisan. You'd think that the MSM would love them for it!

    October 8, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    It never came to the small mind of the GOP that members of the NRA are not just Republicans, but they sure misinformed people that they are the only gun rights advocates. More proof that Americans need to do their own research before taking the word of any politician.

    October 8, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  17. stufthis

    Is it possible that the members of the NRA just realized that the GObP has been lying to them about President Obama taking their guns away?

    October 8, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. Marie MD

    Wow! You know how the "mighty" party of NO has fallen frm grace when the NRA is endorsing Democrats!!
    2010 is going to be quite a year. Anyone who thinks that it's 1994 all over again forgets that in this day and age of iinstant news and everything you do and say goes viral (o'donnell, angle, miller, whitman, paul) it's not that easy to hide from the public.

    October 8, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |