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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kaine Calls NRA Influence Overrated

Senator Tim Kaine charges in a Virginia Pilot editorial that the NRA's influence is over rated:
There are those who believe the National Rifle Association and its allies are so powerful that no legislation will pass. But the power of the organization's leadership is vastly overrated. I've run three statewide races in the NRA's home state. Its leadership campaigned vigorously against me each time, spending nearly $800,000 against me in my 2012 Senate race. I won all my races anyway.

The NRA leadership's track record in other statewide races is equally lackluster because poll after poll shows that Americans believe in reasonable gun safety rules. When even an overwhelming majority of NRA members supports universal background checks, it shows just how out of touch the organization's leadership has become.
There is a little more to the story.  Mr. Kaine ran against two week candidates - one for Lt. Governor (Jay Katzen who still almost pulled off a win), and  for Governor, Jerry Kilgore (who thought he could coast because Kaine was too liberal and took his bas for granted).  Kaine defeated former Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen in the last election.  Allen never really overcame the "Maccaca Moment" from 2006 and likely was an equally weak candidate.  Let's take a look at those other statewide races to wich Kaine refers:
  • Allen for Governor -1993 - NRA endorsed Allen and Allen won
  • Gilmore for Governor - 1997 - NRA endorsed Gilmore and Gilmore won
  • Allen for U.S. Senate - 2000 - NRA endorsed Allen and Allen won
  • 2001 Governor's election - NRA did not endorse
  • Kilgore for Governor - 2005 - NRA endorsed Kilgore and Kaine won
  • Allen for U.S. Senate - 2006 - NRA endorsed Allen and Jim Webb Won (I'd call this one a wash as Webb voted pro-rights)
  • McDonnell for Governor -2009 - NRA endorsed McDonnell and McDonnell won
  • Allen for Senate - 2012 - NRA endorsed Allen and Kaine won
By my count, that's 4-2 in favor of the NRA with one being a wash (Webb had an "A" rating based on his questionnaire).  And in the end, it's not the NRA's leadership that votes, but the members.  In 2012, Mitt Romney turned out less voters than John McCain did in 2008.  That likely had some impact on down ticket races like Allen. In short, their base did not turn out.

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