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How Did the Election Impact the Second Amendment?

Many Blue Dog Democrats who strongly supported gun rights went down to defeat, but the Brady lobby is wrong to state they scored any victories for gun control in the election.

by
Howard Nemerov

Bio

November 7, 2010 - 12:00 am
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The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence wasted no time promoting the 2010 election as a victory for gun control.

Twenty-seven Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were endorsed by the National Rifle Association were defeated yesterday, while only two incumbent Democratic House members who co-sponsored a major gun control bill this session lost their re-election bids.

How did Brady do?

Overall, Brady endorsees won 92% of their House races.* But deeper examination highlights questions about their endorsement process.

In 2008, Brady rode Obama’s coattails to victory, endorsing nearly all Democrats in likely Democrat districts, then proclaiming it a victory for gun control in their post-election report.

However, Brady was soon disappointed. In January 2010, Brady wrote: “Barack Obama was elected on a campaign platform of enacting strong new gun laws,” but failed to deliver. This was because analysis of their report showed that Brady:

  • Manipulated their endorsement process to manufacture a better winning percentage,
  • Ignored the fact that voters didn’t consider gun control an important issue,
  • Ignored voters’ frustration with Republicans (Brady endorses Democrats almost exclusively), and
  • Ignored all the pro-rights Democrats who were elected.

In 2010, Brady again selected many safe candidates to endorse. As in 2008, Brady focused endorsements in traditionally Democratic, anti-rights states, like New York, California, and Massachusetts. Connecticut was one of the few states with a Democratic sweep; Brady endorsed three of their five reps. Massachusetts elected 10 (of 10) Democrats, five were Brady-endorsed.

Brady endorsed 25 of California’s 53 winning representatives. These all came from districts that have voted Democrat in recent decades, generally the last 20+ years, and 24 were incumbents who stood an above-average chance of re-election.

Curiously, Brady dropped many 2008 endorsees, mostly in at-risk states – to them – perhaps because of the justifiable apprehension that Democrat endorsees would lose. These states had higher rates of Republican wins, and all but 2 Brady endorsees are Democrats.

In an apparent first, Michael Arcuri (NY-24) went from Brady- to NRA-endorsed (2008-2010) because he became pro-rights, voting for concealed carry in national parks and cosponsoring NRA-supported BATFE reform.

Arcuri and 44 others lost their 2008 Brady endorsement; 36 maintained their NRA F-grade and three their 2008 D-grade. Curiously, Pelosi lost hers despite a solid anti-rights record. With few exceptions, Brady kept endorsements in “safe” states, earning the highest grades in their latest scorecard: Brady’s top 6 states (scoring 50+) contained a majority (59%) of Brady’s endorsees.

Brady picked some likely wins to boost their numbers. For example, Joseph Cao lost to Brady-endorsed Cedric Richmond, a black, in Louisiana’s 60% black District 2. The Los Angeles Times called Cao’s 2008 win a “fluke.” The only reason he won was because 19-year Congressman William Jefferson was about to be convicted for bribery. Since 1893, Cao was the first non-Democrat to hold this seat.

Charles Djou (HI-1) won a special election when 20-year Democratic Representative Neil Abercrombie resigned to run for governor. Djou won with only 39% of vote, because two Democrats split the party ticket. Brady-endorsed Colleen Hanabusa, who won in 2010, was one of those candidates. This district traditionally votes Democrat.

This is how Brady manufactures larger winning percentages.

* (This analysis covers only the House because 435 outcomes is a better sample size than the Senate’s 37.)

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