More on Endorsements

Some of you might remember the post I did last week asking some questions about endorsements in the Altmire/Hart race in Pennsylvania’s fourth congressional district.  I received a response from Kim Stolfer, who heads up FOAC.  Kim has given me the green light to publish his response, which  will do so in its entirety.  It’s rather long, so I’ll put it beneath a “more” link below.  I encourage everyone to read.

Supreme Court Endorsements:

First the race between Melissa Hart and Jason Altmire is not a repeat of the 2007 Pennsylvania Supreme Court races.  In the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race of 2007 there were a number of factors behind the scenes that complicated the decision-making process for instance the record of the candidates, the funding of the campaigns and the support structure available throughout Pennsylvania.  In this particular race Maureen Lally Green was head and shoulders above Mike Krancer as a candidate.  In addition the intangibles for Maureen were that she had a personal support structure that was well grounded in second amendment issues.  This is not to take away anything from Mike Krancer as a person, since FOAC did recommend him in the primary.  Both these candidates did appear at FOAC’s monthly meetings and were well received and generally well-informed however Maureen Lally Green had a personal and professional resume that was head and shoulders above Mike Krancer.

Additionally, the NRA did not even answer phone calls from this candidate, Maureen Lally Green, until after their endorsements were done.  This was despite our best efforts to talk to those responsible in the NRA as to our belief that if we were to get a good pro-gun Supreme Court Justice that Maureen Lally green was the best hope for us.  You see we have been doing this for over 20 years and our contacts within the political establishment are not only well-informed but they share with us information that we cannot publicly reveal.  This information allows us to not only conduct research into a candidates background and statements but also as to their approach to the political process.  This is supremely important when it comes to relating to the electorate because in a Supreme Court race, or off year election, name recognition is usually very low so these factors become of paramount importance when the vote turnout is also at a very low level.

If you look at the vote totals for the Supreme Court race in 2007 for Pennsylvania you will see that our predictions that Maureen Lally Green was not only the better candidate and related to the electorate much more positively but that she also got a higher percentage of the vote and nearly won her seat.  Frankly speaking Mike Krancer didn’t have a chance so the real question here is not why did we, FOAC, support Maureen Lally Green but why did the NRA support Mike Krancer when every political professional that we talked to knew that he (Krancer) really didn’t have a chance?  In addition you should take a look at who the NRA supported for Superior Court because Bruce Bratton also fell into the same category as Mike Krancer.  Every candidate that FOAC supported for Superior Court won.  As is pointed out in your blog there has been justified criticism of the candidate endorsement process within the NRA and that is the reason that FOAC exists so that we can more effectively target the most appropriate candidate with the best available information that we can glean from what is available publicly and, in some cases, sensitive and private sources.

Congressional District 4-Election Issues:

In this Congressional District race for 2008 between Melissa Hart and Jason Altmire there are a number of primary and secondary issues between these two candidates that led to the decision of FOAC to endorse Melissa Hart.

In 2006 when Jason Altmire first ran for this seat he returned an FOAC questionnaire that was fairly good.  However there were several weaknesses in his philosophy such as supporting a license to “purchase and own” a firearm (which is, as you know, different from a license to carry) and he also stated in question 11 “that he would work for recognition of concealed carry permits“.  The issue of a license to purchase (such as the Illinois-FOID card) is at complete odds with our belief that the Constitution and the citizens embraced by it does not need governmental approval to exercise the freedoms embodied within the Bill of Rights.  In addition his comments on question 11 indicated an untruth because he has refused to work on this issue as embodied in House Resolution 861 specifically along with others.  In addition there have been several discharge petitions that have been attempted to force pro-gun bills to be brought to the floor of the House which he has refused to sign despite interaction with constituents who are frustrated with his unwillingness to go against his party leadership.  This is not the sign of a leader!  There are other troubling areas on his first questionnaire such as support for a constitutional convention that worry us greatly.

Early in 2007 we reached out to Altmire in an effort to engage him in communication on what changes were necessary to certain laws at the federal level.  I, Kim Stolfer, sat down with him and his Chief of Staff at a banquet for the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s league and spoke with him for 20 minutes or more and he promised to follow-up with us which he never did despite numerous calls.  This scenario of contacting him occurred throughout 2007 and into early 2008 without success culminating in his refusal to answer FOAC’s questionnaire for this current election cycle.

With his job performance indicating that he would ‘only’ support issues if there were ‘no or little political consequences’ and his ‘unwillingness to move issues’ that he said he would because of the apparent political consequences FOAC added these factors to our review of his record and as a performance criteria in rating him as unsupportable for this election cycle.

There are other intangibles to this candidate in that he supports openly and outwardly candidates and legislators who would undermine or eliminate our right to bear arms such as Obama and Pelosi.  We cannot and do not condone that!

The context and statements in this blog are not supportable by the facts as we know them and we disagree that Jason Altmire has been “good for gun owners“!  One of the most incomprehensible attitudes is how individuals make a decision that is in direct contrast to the available information.  This has been a terrible problem for gun owners over the years and it, apparently, continues to this day.

The fact is-is that there is a stark contrast between these two candidates and the record of Melissa Hart is head and shoulders above the current incumbent and to deny and ignore that works to our detriment as well politically as well as ethically.

In essence the failure of Altmire to stand by his statements in his 2006 questionnaire as well as some of the controversial positions taken in that questionnaire and his failure to answer our 2008 questionnaire as well as certain legislative positions he has taken or refused to take has weighed heavily on our decision-making process.  Let me be clear this was not an easy decision nor was it without a great deal of work and investigation into the issues involved.  It was one that was made with a great deal of thought and discussion and in the end the FOAC members, a number of them constituents of the incumbent, voted unanimously to take this position.

FOAC Candidate Evaluation Process:

We aggressively oppose incumbent legislators and candidates to office who want to restrict the legitimate use of firearms, including personal and property protection as guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  We accomplish these goals by monitoring and reviewing legislative initiatives and voting records of elected officials as well as public statements of incumbents and candidates alike.  We also utilize personal contact with constituents within the affected districts as to interrogatory responses on issues of concern related to the “right to keep and bear arms”.

The FOAC process is specific and thorough as well as determined by our bylaws and member directive.  FOAC is a member driven organization.  Our members are active and well informed on political issues at both a state and federal level.  Legislators and candidates are welcome to attend our meetings and state their case as well as to answer questions directed to them from our members.  A vote on endorsing major candidates is always taken of the members after debate and review of the analysis of the candidate’s completed questionnaire and debate is and has been very dynamic.  Candidates for statewide office are evaluated every election cycle.

Blog Responses

Part of the problem with making these decisions on political races is acquiring the information from irrefutable sources that allow one to have confidence in the positions taken.  As an example one of the bloggers stated that Murtha has been on our side and I guess if you consider that a person with a barely 61% score is on our side then perhaps you’re right.  However we do not believe that the record of John Murtha justifies our support and I am attaching it here so that you can relay that.

The last blogger from August 21, 2008 at 3:06 p.m. (rightwingprof) troubled me a great deal because he states things that did not occur.  First of all FOAC makes recommendations in the primary for all pro-gun candidates and incumbent Sheriff Denny Nau was one of our recommended candidates not just the Republican.  In fact in the general election we endorsed the incumbent Sheriff.  What troubles me even more is that he says that he e-mailed somebody within FOAC and that there was a complete lack of knowledge and bewilderment on the part of the person he contacted as to why we took this position.  Obviously since we did recommend and endorse the Democrat incumbent Sheriff, Denny Nau, this makes his statement as to the supposed e-mail response from FOAC suspect.  I can provide copies of the voters guides to validate the statements I’ve made.

In closing I would like to say that I appreciate the opportunity to respond to these issues but I would encourage everyone who has questions regarding the operations and actions of FOAC to at least contact us prior to engaging in speculation that is unfounded.  We have no problem with public disagreements as that is the way human beings interact and learn but we would appreciate, and believe we have earned, the opportunity to provide ‘correct and accurate’ information first before our reputation is sullied as to how we conduct business.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

I hope this answers these questions adequately!

Best Regards,

Kim Stolfer