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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

National Rifle Association Endorses Herseth Sandlin; Noem Nets Nut Nod

Here's the endorsement the Noem campaign desperately tried to to distract you from yesterday: the National Rifle Association has endorsed Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota's U.S. House race.

"The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund supports Stephanie Herseth Sandlin because she has defended the Second Amendment freedoms of law-abiding gun owners, hunters and sportsmen in South Dakota and across America," said NRA-PVF Chairman Chris W. Cox. "On November 2, I urge all South Dakota NRA Members and gun owners to vote Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for Congress" [Michael O'Brien, "Key House Dem Snags NRA's Backing in Reelection Effort," TheHill.com, 2010.09.28].

In a September 23 letter, the NRA's Political Victory Fund informed Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin that the NRA was endorsing her and maintaining her "A" rating.
NRA-PVF endorses Herseth SandlinNRA endorsement of Herseth Sandlin, 2010.09.23. [click to enlarge]

The Noem camp responded by touting an endorsement from a gaggle of South Dakota gun owners for whom even the NRA isn't nutty enough about guns. Her gun-owning endorsers include the likes of Second Amendment Sister Nancy First, who thinks we should let everyone carry guns in kindergartens, courthouses, and bars.

The Noem peanut gallery is desperately trying to spin the NRA's endorsement of Herseth Sandlin as insignificant. Some commenters are crying that the NRA is required by its by-laws to endorse incumbents. Not true. While the NRA-PVF's endorsement policy is "incumbent-friendly" (a logical position for an organization interested in maximizing leverage via seniority in Congress), the NRA is still free to withhold endorsements from incumbents it feels aren't doing its bidding. For example, the NRA is not endorsing incumbent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada. If the NRA thought Herseth Sandlin was bad for its interests, the NRA could easily send that message.

Now I don't consider an NRA endorsement cause for celebration. Just a few weeks ago, I gave some poor telemarketer an earful for reading Wayne LaPierre's scripted lies to me over the phone in a push poll (don't these people keep track of past calls?). The NRA's gun-worship distracts us from solving real problems. I look forward to the day when someone who gets an F from the NRA can win an election in South Dakota.

But I can also acknowledge the political climate for what it is and revel in watching conservatives now blaspheme their usual electoral God. Gun advocates, you may think Kristi Noem is your little Annie Oakley, but the great and powerful National Rifle Association recognizes that Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is the right choice for making sure no one comes to pry your guns out of your hands.

Extremist views, ill-considered publicity stunts, sinking poll numbers, failure to grasp practical policy... Kristi Noem is turning out to be nothing more than Bruce Whalen in cowgirl boots.


  1. Yes, The big news here is that the NRA could have endorsed Noem and they didn't. So the NRA even understands that SHS will stand for all South Dakotans, as she claims, even against her own party leadership, contrary to what the Noem camp would want us to believe. I wonder if Noem will do the same or if she will vote along party lines only? I think her record answers that question.

  2. Bingo, Barry. I may not like the NRA, but that doesn't change the important point that the NRA itself is rejecting Noem's SHS=Pelosi argument. Without that, Noem has nothing.

  3. I have to admit Cory, that this decision by the NRA is not surprising to me. I ended my membership years ago, because I was sick of the over the top "thier coming to get your guns" hyperbole that they are constantly spouting. I had become convinced they were just becoming another mouthpiece for the Republican party, but SHS seems to be the exception to this. I am sure some will claim that it is token, but it would not make sense to pick a token in such a close race. I believe it to be genuine. The NRA likes SHS , they always have.

  4. Mike Herickson9/29/2010 11:12 AM

    You aren't quite correct in your assumptions. The NRA endorses a candidate based on 2nd Amendment issues only. In an effort to build long term relationships, they also automatically favor an incumbent over a challenger (so long as the incumbent isnt anti gun). Since there has been almost nil gun legislation in recent years, SHS hasnt done anything anti gun. She is also the incumbent. So, the formula they use says to favor the incumbent as long as she hasn't supported any anti gun legislation, of which there hasnt been any. It has nothing to do at all with SHS == Pelosi.

  5. Mike Clearly it does have something to do with SHS = Pelosi, because if SHS actually did equal Pelosi the NRA absolutely would not have endorsed her. Noem's argument is a bust as far as the NRA is concerned,wouldn't you say?

  6. Mike Henrickson9/29/2010 12:19 PM

    Clearly? I dont think you can make the jump.

    You dont have to tkae my word for it, though. Recently, Chris Cox, Executive Director of the NRA, was asked this type of question specifically. Why is the NRA supporting some incumebent Democrats when there are pro-gun Republicans running against them. He gives exactly the answer I have outlined. The NRA is neither pro-Republican nor pro-Democrat. They only consider actual votes on 2nd Amendment legislation. Affilation with a party or support or opposition to any other legislation is meaningless. And an incumbent is automatically supported over a challenger in order to build long term relationships.

    Again, dont take my word for it, read Mr. Cox's own explaination.

  7. But Mike, your explanation does make it clear that the NRA endorsement deflates Noem's SHS=Pelosi meme. You're saying the NRA is neither pro-GOP or pro-Dem. The NRA's endorsement says they see beyond party lines. The NRA endorsement recognizes that on an issue Noem considers extremely significant, SHS sees beyond the party lines dictated by Pelosi. On this issue, then, SHS≠Pelosi.

    And check the link above about Harry Reid: the incumbent is not automatically supported.

  8. Mike. Mr. Cox seems to go against his own commentary, when he decides not to endorse Harry Reid. Harry Reid did not get the endorsement despite his previous "A" rating, not because of any anti-2 amendment votes but because of supreme court ratification votes. The endorsement process is not as cut a dry as you suggest. If the NRA thought that SHS would vote with Nancy Pelosi on anything that involved the second amendment they would have never endorsed her. SHS= Pelosi is a bust.

  9. Mike Henrickson9/29/2010 12:50 PM

    Well, again, I think you are making some pretty big leaps.

    The NRA endorsement does see beyond party affiliation, but doesnt consider the party line. When they are rating SHS (or any other candidate) they ask has she personally done anything we view as anti-gun? They dont care whant her friends, nieghbors, and family did. What has she personally done? Based on support of pro-gun legislation and/or non-support of anti-gun legislation she is then given a grade. Again, it has nothing to do with what her colleagues may do or have done. So, in this regard, yes SHS ≠ Pelosi (if you are saying that Pelosi is antigun and SHS is not).

    Does this completely deflate Noem's arguement that SHS is the exact same as Pelosi? Depends on whether you think that any reasonable person believes that any two people are exactly the same. Of course no two people are. The Dems used the same argument against the Rebubs (Candidate X == Bush) because it is somewhat effective when you can draw parallels. So, on the specific topic of guns, SHS ≠ Pelosi, but are you saying that that is enough data to say that their beliefs dont trend to parallel on many if not the majority of other topics?

    On the topic of Harry Reid, the NRA took his support of recent court appointments as anti-gun. Again, these were his individual votes that were taken into consideration. This is outlined in the statement made by Mr. Cox.
    When it comes to supporting the imcumbent, I did qualify that statement with "so long as the incumbent isnt antigun". Basically that favoritism is for the case when you have two candidated that are viewed as pro-gun. If they are are both pro-gun, then support the incumbent. That is most likely the scenario we are seeing with SHS and Noem. Both are rated highly, so pick the incumbent.

  10. Mike Henrickson9/29/2010 12:53 PM

    Dang - need the spell checker for my posts. :)
    Also, my "verifcation word" is "zinger". Guess it thinks this is a joke!

  11. [Talk about comment verification karma! Very funny. :-) ]

    I'm sticking with my leaps, Mike, because I don't think they're that big. What we have here is a classic case of disproving a hypothesis with a single well-placed counterexample. Certainly, we can find issues where SHS and Pelosi do track (and I can point to some others where they don't but where SHS should!) But Noem's primary propaganda is geared toward getting people to close their eyes to actual policy and just conflate SHS with the easily demonizable image of Pelosi. The NRA endorsement (not just a shrug, but an endorsement) opens people's eyes on an issue that, for better or worse, is a big deal in South Dakota. On this key issue, Pelosi gets an "F" from the NRA, while SHS gets and "A". This single issue significantly undermines Noem's desperate generalization and significantly supports SHS's contention that, when her party leaders and South Dakota interests are in conflict, SHS is sufficiently independent to stand for South Dakota.


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