Democratic Candidates Run Against The NRA

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), a candidate for Secretary of State John Kerry’s open U.S. Senate seat, launched his first campaign ad Tuesday — a direct attack on the gun lobby in general and the National Rifle Association in particular. After NRA-backed candidates failed miserably in the 2012 campaign, the organization’s support has become an albatross and candidates are actively running on their opposition to it.

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling, the firm that most closely predicted the 2012 elections, found that 39 percent of voters are less likely to back a candidate endorsed by the NRA, compared to just 26 percent who are more likely to support someone with the NRA’s support. Among independents, 41 percent said they were not likely to support a candidate backed by the organization.

Because of this — along with the NRA leadership’s remarkable intransigence in the face of the Newtown tragedy — more and more elected officials who were once NRA darlings have broken with the group and expressed a willingness to consider commonsense gun violence prevention measures. Like most gun owners, a growing number of Democrats and Republicans have embraced popular proposals like expanded background checks and bans of high-capacity magazine clips, despite the NRA leadership’s fervent opposition.

Now, Democratic candidates are recognizing that voters are fed up with the NRA’s perceived stranglehold on Congress. Markey’s ad features footage of the late NRA President Charlton Heston famous “from my cold, head hands” speech and notes that “long before tragedy struck” in at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Massachusetts Democrat who successfully pushed a ban on Chinese assault weapons imports. In the 30-second spot, Markey’s vows to support for tougher gun laws and to “keep standing up to the gun lobby.”

Watch the ad:

Rep. Stephen Lynch, Markey’s primary opponent in the Senate race, has also posted a video explaining his support for gun violence legislation.


In last month’s Democratic primary for an open U.S. House seat in Chicago, IL, gun violence emerged as the major issue. Robin Kelly, who won the primary by a wide margin, ran on a pledge to support bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and efforts to close the gun show loophole. “I am proud of my ‘F’ rating from the NRA,” she noted, “and will always stand up to them in Congress.” Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson attempted to distance herself from her pro-NRA record, but lost by more than 30 points after being slammed for her NRA “A” rating.