Sep 19, 2014
With Washington ready for a ballot initiative fight this November and the accompanying debate over who is and isn’t showing up, I thought it would be important to look at a couple of historical votes relevant to the subject of ballot initiatives.
One is recent history. Very recent. As in, yesterday. There were were many polls showing that the Yes and No votes on Scottish Independence were in a dead heat, and even some showing that Yes was taking the lead in the days prior to the vote. The real result was a 10 point vote against independence with massive turnout.
Another, more relevant example, is from Massachusetts in 1976. I’ve posted about how important it is for gun owners to read about and learn from this example before. It shows why we keep fighting, even in sometimes clearly uphill fights. From Dave Kopel’s article on the ballot initiative fight:
Early polling suggested that a handgun ban would pass handily. Further, in the 1974 election, voters in several state legislative districts had overwhelmingly supported measures instructing their state legislators to vote for strict anti-gun legislation. …
The final poll, a few days before, had showed Question 5 with a 10-point lead. Everyone anticipated a long night waiting for the election results. Everyone was wrong.
Handgun confiscation was crushed by a vote of 69 percent to 31 percent. Of the approximately 500 towns in Massachusetts, only about a dozen (including Cambridge, Brookline, Newton and Amherst) voted for the ban. Even Boston rejected the ban by a wide margin.
There are notable differences in that it was certainly a far more extreme policy than Washington. However, it still shows that what people feel they “should” tell a pollster may not match how they vote in a closed voting booth. That’s the kind of tendency that Washington activists need to appeal to there.
Now, NRA cannot, even if they empty their entire campaign war chest into Washington State and completely ignore the rest of the country, outspend Bloomberg and Bill Gates. They can’t. Just accept it right now that you cannot look at this situation strictly through the lens of campaign finance reports. I’m not in Washington, but I do see some evidence of NRA work. There’s a Facebook page they’ve created that partially documents some of their work, and I can also say that from the moment I met our new EVC coordinator back in March, she’s been aware of this and trying to work with local activists to make sure they have what they need and help them out. Even in our Friends of NRA program that isn’t political, we saw record turnout for people showing up to participate, even though they couldn’t quite open their wallets as much as last year. Fights like this aren’t accurately portrayed in financial reports.
These issues are complex, and there’s a chance that we may lose. However, if gun owners study their history on ballot initiatives, they’ll know these things are won with volunteers on the ground and that sometimes polls on policy efforts to support more gun control are very, very wrong when you actually stick a ballot with that issue in front of someone’s face.
Aug 21, 2014
It looks like the Republican Governors Association thinks that pushing gun control is going to be a worthwhile attack on John Hickenlooper out in Colorado.
There’s quite a bit of fair criticism that it appears as though Republicans often tend to only turn to our issue when they can attack Democrats for it rather than doing very much in the way of positive work to advance the cause. I suspect the truth in that statement, like any issue dealing with politics, varies wildly depending on your state and region. However, I can at least say this about our GOP governor in Pennsylvania – he’s the reason that controversial gun control is not an issue in this year’s state elections, and I think that’s under appreciated by many gun owners.
Aug 20, 2014
NRA is launching an ad campaign to highlight what an insulting busybody Michael Bloomberg is to anyone who doesn’t want to live their life the same way he demands the little people live.
According to the WaPo, it’s starting out with a $500,000 buy in Colorado. USA Today says that it will also run nationally on cable. They also report a digital ad buy in other states like Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia.
This buy starts now, so they aren’t waiting until the elections to do it.
Aug 13, 2014
There’s a very scary reality that someone with as much money as Bloomberg can put more than $150,000 into a county sheriff’s election and not bat an eye. Money can make things very, very tough to fight when someone saturates the airwaves with a common message during election season.
However, there’s a silver lining in that, ultimately, money doesn’t vote. People vote. That reminder was sent to Mike Bloomberg again last night when the county race he invested so heavily in managed to stay in the hands of a sheriff who believes in the right to defend yourself and your family.
David Clarke retains his office as Milwaukee County Sheriff this morning, even though the Bloomberg-backed challenger is refusing to concede today. Boy, he sure knows how to pick the classy candidates.
Aug 12, 2014
Guns are going to be a big issue in the Connecticut governor’s race. I’d like to see Malloy’s political career served up on a silver platter. He didn’t win by a huge margin, so maybe it’s possible to knock him off. I’t we manage any of the big four: Hickenlooper, Malloy, O’Malley, or Cuomo, it’ll be a big victory. If we get two, even better. If we get three, that might be enough to re-teach Democrats “the lesson.”
If I had to pick any of the four I’d want Hickenlooper most of all, probably followed by O’Malley, then Malloy and Cuomo. Reason? We were always living on borrowed time in the other states. If we can’t hold Colorado, other states will start to fall like Dominos.
It’s looking pretty bad for Corbett in 2014, and who knows how bad that’s going to affect down ticket races. I would have thought Pennsylvania would start turning anti before Colorado. A lot of Pennsylvanians have no idea how good they have it, and how quickly that’s going to fly south if they don’t wake up.
Jun 11, 2014
Gabby Giffords is focusing on a local (to me) politician:
Aiming to spend as much as $20 million, the group also will weigh in for Democratic House Reps. Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire and Ron Barber of Arizona. Barber has a special meaning for Giffords because he used to work in her congressional office and was also wounded in the 2011 Tucson shooting that gravely wounded Giffords.
Emphasis mine. Fitzpatrick is actually a Republican, but those of you who live here might get a little giggle out of that. One thing we’ve been wondering is whether Fitzpatrick will hold on to his NRA endorsement. By all rights he ought to lose it, because he signed on to the House version of Manchin-Toomey, but his voting record has generally been good otherwise.
The last Democrat we had in Congress supported bans on semi-autos. The last few challenger to Fitzpatrick returned a favorable questionnaire.
Jun 10, 2014
A few years ago, I decided to make a note of which lawmakers sought or ran on NRA’s endorsement who initially refused to step up and support national reciprocity. After people reported calling the offices of the mysteriously missing potential co-sponsors, several stepped up and signed on.
While looking at the Pennsylvania angle again for this year, imagine my surprise when I found some key names left off of the sponsors list – again.
These are the members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation who support the bill:
- Rep. Mike Kelly (R)
- Rep. Tom Marino (R)
- Rep. Tim Murphy (R)
- Rep. Scott Perry (R)
- Rep. Keith Rothfus (R)
- Rep. Bill Shuster (R)
- Rep. Glenn Thompson (R)
I might add that Rep. Rothfus actually didn’t have the NRA endorsement last time around. He had an A rating, but with the incumbent Democrat’s record, it was issued to the incumbent.
These are the members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation who sought & received NRA’s endorsement in 2012 against anti-gun opponents who are not on that list:
- Rep. Lou Barletta (R)
- Rep. Charlie Dent (R)
- Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R)
- Rep. Jim Gerlach (R)
- Rep. Pat Meehan (R)
- Rep. Joe Pitts (R)
For 2014, Rep. Gerlach is retiring, but the others will be on the ballot. Reps. Dent, Barletta, and Pitts are expected to be pretty safe, so I’m surprised that they are not willing to help their law-abiding license holder constituents. In fact, Charlie Cook has all three of those seats, plus Rep. Meehan, in the “Solid Republican” category as not really competitive.
In 2014, I find it hard to get excited by candidates who don’t even think that law-abiding citizens who undergo regular background checks still can’t be trusted with firearms. If you live in any of these districts, it might be good to let them know that you noticed they wanted your vote in 2012, but that they won’t even get on board with national reciprocity.
May 21, 2014
Yesterday was primary day in Pennsylvania, and the big race to watch was to see how the Democratic primaries shaped up since those were the main contested races. NRA also offered a few endorsements, so we’ll look at how things shaped up.
I can report with 100% certainty that Tom will win the gubernatorial election in November. Unfortunately, we don’t know which Tom – Corbett or Wolf – it will be.
The biggest news from last night is just how terribly Rep. Allyson Schwartz did in an all-Democratic election. She was one who many people wondered if she would be a bit too liberal for a pretty purple state, but the Democratic voting base gave her an embarrassingly low second place finish last night – 40 points behind Tom Wolf. Instead, it turns out that she was ripped apart by progressives who were horrified by the fact that she has, at times in her nine year Congressional career, worked with moderate Democrats. Basically, the fact that she had a record to tear through worked against her.
For the gun issue, it’s not really good news or bad news. On one hand, the Democratic candidate with the lowest grade from Ceasefire won the primary. On the other hand, the entire pool of Democratic candidates for 2014 are far more hostile to our rights than the group in 2010.
Tom Wolf, the Democratic candidate now, told Ceasefire that he supports their policy proposal “imposing a ban under Pennsylvania law on the sale and possession of assault weapons.” A ban on possession implies confiscation. That’s a big freaking problem there, beyond the ban on sales which is also a hugely unacceptable response.
Wolf also said he supported their idea to “imposing a limit under Pennsylvania law on magazine capacity” where they did highlight that restrictions on size vary, so that paves the way for a push to something like NY’s SAFE Act coming from a Wolf administration.
On carry, Wolf says he will oppose any form of national reciprocity, and he also added a response to congratulate Attorney General Kathleen Kane for screwing with Pennsylvania’s reciprocity agreements. Oddly enough, he didn’t back the push for an outright ban on all campus carry, and he only stated that he believes colleges must make their carry policies transparent.
Wolf also says that he wants a bill “requiring gun owners to keep firearms and ammunition in separate secure locations.” That box of ammo you keep in your range bag? That’s not secure. The shelf you might keep your ammo sorted on? That’s not secure. Oh, and you can’t just stuff it into your 800 pound gun safe bolted to your floor because your guns are in there and they must be secured separately. That’s fine, you say, because it’s not like they’ll send inspectors around for this stuff. Well, just hope you never have to call 911 for a medical emergency in your home or have a fire where public safety staff will enter your home and report whatever they see that may possibly be a violation. Tell Grandma that her ambulance for the stroke she’s having will have to wait because you need to run out to a gun shop and find a new locking case for that ammunition.
Needless to say, those gun owners are going to be given a pretty stark contrast this year at the polls.
Lt. Governor’s Race
Again, the only race here was on the Democratic side. However, there is some news to report on the gun issue. First, the NRA grades for each of the candidates were rather interesting. In Mark Critz you had a man who had an A+ in 2012 drop to a C for this primary race, but who also refused to respond to the CeasefirePA questionnaire. Then there was Rep. Brandon Neuman who actually has a current A rating who also refused to answer to Ceasefire. But the winner came from the three candidates who did respond to Ceasefire with a 100% rating.
Oddly, the winner, Sen. Mike Stack, made a very bizarre claim to Ceasefire: “￼The NRA has consistently given me a failing grade. I would be honored to have CeaseFirePA’s
￼endorsement in this election and will wear it like a badge of honor right next to my NRA ‘F.’” Um, he has always had a C-, not an F, so his statement is an outright lie. That grade is based on a voting record, too. Regardless, it’s clear that he wants gun owners to know that he’s got a giant target set on their backs.
The other negative for Allyson Schwartz last night was that she was so confident in her status as a Democratic front-runner that she said she wouldn’t run again for her Congressional seat, but she would back a close supporter for the seat. That close supporter who also tried running on healthcare, Val Arkoosh, came in dead last in a four-way primary.
Perhaps the most interesting part for this solidly Democratic seat was that the so-called “liberal lion” of Pennsylvania politics came in a very close to last third place. The race really ended up being between Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law who the Clintons campaigned for and the winner, a state lawmaker who was attacked for backing some level of regulation for abortion clinics, especially in light of the Gosnell issues that happened right here in Pennsylvania.
However, it’s not like the winner is a friend of the Second Amendment, either. In his last state house run, he had a D+. One might expect that to drop to an F now that he’s in a solidly Democratic district and in need of a little extra cushion against the progressive wing of the party who has him in their sights.
NRA endorsed in this primary because of the incumbent rule, so it’s good to report that Rep. Bill Shuster won. The other two candidates had AQs, so it’s not like it would have gone into anti-gun hands if he hadn’t made it.
In our own Congressional district, there was a Democratic primary and the one who many would hope would bring the “War on Women” and “SCIENCE!” message to the race didn’t win. The winner, Kevin Strouse, wants the absolutely terrible Manchin-Toomey bill brought back up, and wants to “ban most ammunition—whether from handguns or rifles” that he arbitrarily decides defeats body armor. He offers no definitions of the terms he’s using, no context, just simply anything that police would support. The WaPo likes him because he has no record and is willing to speak in vague terms on the issue that leaves open the possibility of supporting quite extreme or complicated legislation that risks landing non-attorney gun owners trying to comply in jail.
The Democrats has a competition here between a man whose main hiccup with ethics was on using proper account funds to attend a Friends of the NRA banquet on behalf of his boss, former Rep. John Murtha, and a woman who has backed portions of Obama’s gun control agenda. Unfortunately, the most anti-gun candidate won the primary in this case. I don’t know what her final grade will be, as she has no previous record to run on. She’s challenging Rep. Keith Rothfus who will likely carry the NRA endorsement.
NRA endorsed in only a handful of primaries this year, but they won almost all of them.
For voters in the 66th State House district, the new GOP nominee, Cris Dush refused to return a questionnaire based on the ? following the name and the endorsement to an opponent who wasn’t too far behind on votes. Dush claims that he supports the Second Amendment on his website, but voters should probably let him know that he should be willing to sign his name to some policy specifics.
On the bad news front, the most hostile Republican to the Second Amendment in 176th State House district in Monroe County has a 19 vote lead right now. The county claims that all precincts have reported, but I’m not aware if any absentee ballots have been counted yet. Unfortunately, Jack Rader, Jr. returned a questionnaire with a pretty dismal C- rating, and local GOP voters opted for him over a candidate with an A. I don’t know what the Democrat’s grade will look like, but hopefully gun owners in that district will find some kind of friend on the ballot.
In one five-way Republican primary for the 17th State House district, one of the losers was the only GOP candidate to refuse to answer a questionnaire. Unfortunately for voters in that area, both Democrats also refused to answer questionnaires. There was a similar outcome in the four-way GOP contest for 169th State House district with the only GOP candidate refusing a questionnaire losing.
Apr 7, 2014
Based on their 100% scores from Ceasefire PA, it appears that Allyson Schwartz and Katie McGinty haven’t met a gun control proposal they didn’t like. The “lowest” scoring Democrat on the ballot Tom Wolf who agreed with the gun control group almost 80% of the time. This marks a stark change from 2010 when the “lowest” scoring Democrat was against about half of the group’s policies.
I downloaded the report and will do a more thorough post on the exact issues the gubernatorial candidates want to see become the law of the land in Pennsylvania shortly. One of the delays in getting up a post about the top of the ticket statewide races has been watching the fallout after petitions went in. There have already been changes to the primary ballot with people dropping out, so I wanted to see what the playing field really looked like. Based on the quick look of the summary, pro-gun Democrats in the central part of the state need to start raising their voices – loudly – and start voting their gun rights if they don’t want to line up to turn them in, a serious policy proposal from a suburban Democrat in this state. This isn’t a “Philly” issue anymore. The anti-gun extremism is clearly spreading in Pennsylvania.