NRA-PVF Endorsement Policy

Monday, May 10, 2010

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We are rapidly approaching the time when NRA's Political Action Committee the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) will begin issuing endorsements in elections across the country.

As always in an election year, we receive many calls and e-mails inquiring about our endorsement policy in general, and specific races in particular.  That trend has certainly held up this year, as we have received many inquiries about high profile races, such as the Nevada Senate race.  For the record, NRA-PVF has not yet announced any ratings or endorsements in this race.

With few exceptions, and for several reasons, we generally do not announce ratings or endorsements until closer to the elections. There are still votes to be graded and other information to be evaluated prior to issuing an accurate grade as Election Day nears.

As in every election year, some of these endorsements prompt questions concerning the criteria NRA-PVF uses in making these decisions. Following is a brief explanation of that policy.

The NRA-PVF is non-partisan in issuing its candidate grades and endorsements. We do not base our decisions on a candidate's party affiliation, but rather on his or her record on Second Amendment issues. The NRA is a single-issue organization. The only issues on which we evaluate candidates seeking elected office are gun-related issues. While there are many issues a candidate must address with voters, and while voters evaluate a number of non-gun-related issues in factoring which candidate they will support or oppose, NRA-PVF's sole criteria in issuing grades and endorsements is a candidate's position on gun-related issues.

With four million NRA members and 80 million gun owners in the country, our constituency is diverse in its views on multiple issues of our day. However, we are all united in our support of the Second Amendment and our opposition to the notion that passing more laws that negatively impact law-abiding gun owners will reduce crime. For us to divide that otherwise united base of support on non-firearm-related issues would be strategically foolish.

NRA has an incumbent-friendly policy that dictates our support for pro-gun incumbents seeking reelection. It is important that we stand with our friends who stand with us in Congress or the state legislature through their actions. Of course, should a pro-gun challenger win his election, and stay true to support for our gun rights, then he will be the beneficiary of this policy when seeking re-election.

For candidates who are not incumbents or who have not previously held elective office and thus lack voting records, we review answers to NRA's candidate questionnaires, their campaign literature and relevant statements, and rely on intelligence from NRA members and gun owners in the field.

All of this information is then reviewed and a grade of "A" to "F" is issued. Endorsements are not given in every race. Our endorsement is not given lightly; it is something that is reserved for those candidates who meet certain criteria and something that must be earned.

Sometimes we receive inquiries concerning judicial races. NRA-PVF generally does not issue endorsements in judicial elections. In the rare circumstances where NRA-PVF makes endorsements in state judicial races, there are many complexities that must be taken into account, including the following:

•     Judges, unlike legislators, often do not have voting records. Therefore, in evaluating judicial candidates, NRA-PVF can only make evaluations based upon past legal opinions and public statements involving firearm-related issues;

•     Individual states implement different codes of judicial conduct, and have often passed statutes limiting judicial candidates from announcing their views on issues or controversies that may come before the court, and;

•     These codes or statutes may prevent judicial candidates from filling out NRA-PVF candidate questionnaires. Even if a candidate could fill out a questionnaire, and then got elected to the bench, the questionnaire answers might later force the judge to recuse him- or herself from a firearm-related case.

We certainly welcome input and information from our members on judicial candidates. It is important to remember, however, that NRA-PVF's involvement in judicial races remains the exception and not the rule.

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