Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Toxic Is The NRA's Political Embrace Now?


Right now there's a contest in the House. Which Democrat has voted most frequently with Boehner and Cantor against progressive ideas in crucial roll call votes? When you just count the current session, Arizona ConservaDem Ann Kirkpatrick-- who has cast aside her 100% pro-Boehner voting record-- and is now tied exactly tied with Rick Crawford (R-AR), Aaron Schock (R-IL), and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), 14.29%-- is the worst of the worst. 13 Republicans score higher than Kirkpatrick before you get to the next most horrible Democrat, freshman Gloria Negrete McLeod, who clocks in at a putrid 28.57%. That's 28.57 with Democrats... 71.43% with Boehner and Cantor. She's off to a bad start... be not an unexpected one if you followed her conservative record in the California legislature.

Kirkpatrick has the excuse-- and she's always whining about it-- that her district is too reddish to support anyone with a progressive record. She beat her GOP opponent 49-45% in November, while Romney took the district with 50.4%. McLeod can't use that excuse. Obama trounced Romney in CA-35, a healthy 67.4- 30.6% and McLeod wasn't up against a Republican; she beat a Blue Dog opponent, Joe Baca. She beat him 56- 44%, something no one saw coming. No one.

A week before the November election, Mayor Bloomberg dumped over $3 million dollars into the race and swamped Baca. He did it for one reason, Baca was one of the NRA's biggest supporters-- along with Georgia Blue Dog John Barrow-- inside the House Democratic Caucus. Bloomberg sent a message to incumbents that cozying up to the NRA could cost you your cozy career. (Nevermind that McLeod didn't even have a bad NRA record herself, she was more than willing to denounce the NRA on behalf of Bloomberg's strategy.)

Last week, Toi Hutchinson's sponsorship of a virulently anti-NRA bill in the state legislature wasn't enough to save her from the wrath of Bloomberg and other NRA foes. An NRA questionnaire she filled out was enough to cause Bloomberg to flood the district with anti- NRA ads implying she was an NRA-backed candidate. Bloomberg's villain didn't sound like a villain to me, not in the guest post she did for DWT and not in the video she released in January:

But the NRA brand is becoming so toxic that once it sticks to a candidate, Democrats, moderates and independents start turning away. Debbie Halvorson, the actual NRA candidate in IL-02, started out as the clear frontrunner. Next Tuesday she is likely to lose to the anti-NRA candidate, Robin Kelly. The NRA seal of approval is a career death sentence outside of the Old Confederacy. Yesterday Politico reported that the NRA is going to spend $375,000 attacking Democrats in hot Senate races in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Alaska, Colorado, Montana, New Hampshire and South Dakota and against one mainstream Republican (Susan Collins) in Maine. The NRA ads will probably guarantee Collins' reelection and aren't likely to win the GOP seats in New Hampshire, Montana (where Max Baucus has an NRA A+ rating, better than most Republicans!), Colorado, or even Alaska. The other states... that remains to be seen. Mark Begich (AK) and Tim Johnson (SD) haven't exactly been the enemies of gun owners and the NRA gave Johnson a solid A.

The NRA has a big base in these states, although private polling shows that that base has been having serious second thoughts after the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre and the unhinged reaction from NRA president Wayne LaPierre.

Even before Newtown, the NRA's bite was failing to live up to its bark. Last year the NRA spent considerable money trying to defeat its enemies and elect lackeys. That worked out very badly for them on election day. Big NRA supporters among House Dems who lost their reelections, despite NRA financial help, included
• Jason Altmire (Blue Dog/New Dem-PA)- $2,500
• Joe Baca (Blue Dog-CA)- $2,500
• Ben Chandler (Blue Dog-KY)- $4,000
• Mark Critz (PA)- $3,500
• Kathleen Hochul (New Dem-NY)- $3,000
• Tim Holden (Blue Dog-PA)- $4,950
• Larry Kissell (Blue Dog-NC)- $3,000
The NRA also contributed to other PACs, almost $200,000, much of it to the RNC, the Romney Victory PAC, the NRSC, the Blue Dog PAC and shady leadership PACs run by Boehner, Cantor, Miss McConnell and Patrick McHenry. But that ain't all, folks. The NRA also ran their own campaigns in the congressional races. Of the $9,493,815 they spent, $6,735,955 went into negative ads against Democrats; $2,563,137 in favor of Republicans. They also spent $179,469 to help defeat Richard Lugar in the Indiana primary on behalf of Richard Mourdock. Some of their biggest spends-- all wasted-- for 2012:
• $5,771,433 against Obama
• $1,850,526 for Romney
• $537,667 for Richard Mourdock (R-IN)
• $344,832 against Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
• $210,823 against Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
• $163,967 against Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

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