"If Republicans maintain control of the Senate this November, they’ll have to be sure to thank the gun lobby. In addition to spending millions of dollars on TV ads and other support for presidential nominee Donald Trump, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is playing a major role in election contests likely to decide which party has a majority in the Senate come 2017, an outcome that is very much up in the air right now.
The conventional wisdom in national politics is that voters don’t really start paying attention to the election until after Labor Day. And as Senate races heated up in September, the NRA poured $8.5 million into eight of the most competitive Senate races—more than any other outside group besides the two major political parties and their aligned super PACs. The gun group even outspent the network of advocacy organizations funded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch. It helped give Senate Republicans a big edge over Democrats last month in terms of the outside cash flowing into their races. Super PACs and party committees supporting Republican Senate candidates spent roughly $69 million in September; their Democratic counterparts spent about $47 million.
It also demonstrates that even as political support for gun control policies has grown, the forces working against gun regulations continue to be formidable. If the polls hold true and Hillary Clinton wins the White House in November, she has promised aggressive measures to curb gun violence. A Republican Senate would be a critical bulwark for the NRA and others that share its views. According to spokeswoman Jennifer Baker, “The Supreme Court is the overarching issue” for the group in 2016, and she highlights the vacancy left by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier this year, which the next president will likely get to fill.
“If there is an anti-gun president, then that means what’s standing in the way of [an] anti-gun Supreme Court justice…is a pro-Second Amendment United States Senate,” Baker says.
At this point, it’s not possible to get a full picture of all the different ways advocacy groups are spending money in the 2016 election. Groups that run ads or other forms of voter outreach that explicitly support a candidate’s election must report that spending (called “independent expenditures”) to the Federal Election Commission within a span of a few days. But there’s plenty that outside groups do during an election that does not require immediate disclosure until the final weeks of the race—such as “voter education” on issues, which often skirts the direct-advocacy line. One common example: a TV ad critiquing a candidate’s policy positions and then urging viewers to “call Candidate X and tell them you support Y.”
The slice of spending that is now on display, however, gives us a sense of some of the biggest players in the election. And in this cycle, the NRA appears to be all in. In September alone, the group ran TV ads in Florida, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Missouri, either touting the Republican running for Senate or attacking the opponent. And the NRA sent mail pieces and held phone banks in those five states plus Colorado, Ohio and Wisconsin."
Screaming about a C rating from the NRA, big deal, they should be dancing in the streets of Pennsylvania We have NEVER had anything but an F rated congressman since statehood I'll trade our congressional trash for Sen Toomey any day! At least they acknowledge the existence and validity of the US Constitution there, and not Japanese laws as their land's standard
Aloha (bite me Nihon and piss on Akihito)