Opinion Brief

The NRA: Endorsing Harry Reid?

Historically aligned with Republicans, the NRA may endorse Harry Reid in Nevada's hotly contested Senate race. And some conservative commentators are crying foul.

The National Rifle Association, a staunch defender of Second Amendment rights, tends to be politically aligned with conservatives and the GOP. But the group is reportedly "leaning towards" endorsing Senate majority leader Harry Reid — a pro-gun rights Democrat — in his reelection bid against GOP opponent Sharron Angle, and many conservatives are accusing it of selling out. The NRA has already endorsed Ted Strickland, Ohio's Democratic governor, and convinced House Democrats to exempt it from some campaign finance reporting requirements. Is this a new era for the NRA? (Watch Harry Reid extoll the virtues of guns)

The NRA supports Reid because he is powerful, not because he's a Democrat: Harry Reid is "one of the most influential and powerful men in Washington," says Alex Pareene at Salon, and the Second Amendment rights group has supported him before. Sorry, "right-wing Internet nuts," but the NRA is a lobbying group before it is a GOP cheerleader. If Reid supports gun rights — which he does — "it would be pretty stupid of [the NRA] not to endorse him."
"NRA to endorse Harry Reid?"

Reid's long-term support of gun rights is questionable: Actually, Reid has a history of voting against gun rights, says Erick Erickson at Red State. The NRA's endorsement has more to do with the "$61 million earmark" Reid finagled for a gun range in Clark County, Nevada, and the campaign finance act exemption. The NRA isn't being bipartisan; it's rewarding Democrats for earmarks and carve-outs.
"NRA now leans toward endorsing Harry Reid"

The NRA is just playing defense: One reason we're open to Reid, admits Chris Cox, chief NRA lobbyist, as quoted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is that his most likely successors as Democratic leader — Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York — "are the two most rabidly anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment senators in Washington."
"Whither the gun lobby and Harry Reid?"

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