Updated on May 3, 2016
It’s campaign season, as if you needed to know that. Politicians on the left and right are clamoring for endorsements from their respective philosophical leanings. Liberals desperately seek out acceptance from MoveOn.org, Black Lives Matter, gun control groups and baby killers, among others. Conservatives search far and wide for the nod from ALEC, National Right to Life, Tea Party Patriots (and really all tea party groups), and the NRA, among others. But, does an NRA endorsement really mean anything?
Here in Texas, not a single non-incumbent candidate has received an NRA endorsement. Instead, the NRA is endorsing very moderate Republicans who aren’t that friendly to gun rights at over more ardent and liberty-minded candidates.
Case in point: House District 73 candidate Kyle Biedermann is by far a better candidate on gun rights. He believes in repealing all gun control laws, instituting constitutional carry, and insulating Texans from federal gun-related overreach. Doug Miller, the incumbent, not only refused to sign on to HB 195 – the constitutional carry bill filed by uber-conservative Jonathan Stickland – but he opposed a measure that would have protected law abiding gun owners from law enforcement harassment. Of course, the NRA also did nothing to pass constitutional carry and also opposed 4th amendment protections for gun owners, so I guess that’s to be expected. Other examples are the district 128 race (where moderate incumbent Wayne Smith was chosen over another liberty minded, pro-gun conservative, Briscoe Cain) and Senate District 24, where the NRA chose an incumbent who has more in common with liberal Democrats than Republicans and who also refused to endorse constitutional carry and opposed the Rinaldi/Huffines gun owner protection amendment. Dawn Buckingham, King’s opponent, has made very clear that not only does she support constitutional carry, but she will sign on as a co-author or co-sponsor. King has refused to respond to that question.
In 2012, the NRA endorsed incumbent Ralph Sheffield who lost to Molly White. Sheffield was an extremely moderate Republican who also refused to endorse unlicensed carry because “it would cost the state too much revenue to remove the mandatory license.” Molly White ended up being one of the top conservatives in the House and was one of the few candidates to sign on to constitutional carry.
In state after state, we see the NRA choosing establishment Republicans who will sign nearly any pro-gun bill that comes across their desk, but won’t put their name on the line to endorse tough legislation that goes further in recognizing our rights than the incremental steps legislators like to take to stay relevant and keep NRA funds flooding in for years to come. After all, if constitutional carry were the order of the day in all states, what fight would legislators have that required PAC money?
Before anyone accuses me of being an NRA hater, I’m an Endowment Life and Golden Eagles member of the NRA. I’ve given the organization thousands of dollars in donations over the years. However, because of their actions in Texas the past few years, I will no longer send them another dime.
So, when incumbent candidates tell you they are A+ rated or endorsed by the NRA over their primary opponents, ask yourself how much that endorsement is actually worth considering their history. Only in extremely rare circumstances do they select the opponent of an incumbent, even when they have an Aq rating.