The nation’s premier gun rights organization has endorsed Democrat Mark Critz for re-election in Pennsylvania’s most competitive congressional race. Citing his voting record, the National Rifle Association threw its weight behind the incumbent.
“Mark Critz has a proven record of defending the Second Amendment,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of NRA-PVF, the NRA’s political arm. “Because of his strong support of our rights, Critz has earned an “A plus” rating and endorsement from the NRA-PVF.”
“I am proud to be endorsed by the National Rifle Association because no group in America fights harder to protect our Second Amendment rights,” Critz said. “I will continue to oppose any effort to take away the fundamental right to bear arms that is guaranteed under the constitution as long as I am fortunate to serve the people of Western Pennsylvania in Congress.”
What makes the NRA’s endorsement so highly prized? Their membership comprises many devout, single-issue voters – particularly in southwest Pa., where there is a higher concentration of NRA members than anywhere else in the country. Each of those members will receive an orange postcard with the names of endorsed candidates. In a district where a candidate could lose a Democratic primary over support for gun control, those little cards are more valuable to a campaign than any other mail piece.
The NRA is one of America’s most powerful lobbying groups in part because, unlike many groups, they set a level playing field for Republicans and Democrats. That means Dems are just as able – and eager – to get along with them in Congress. The difference between earning an “A” rating and an “A+” as Critz did is that fact that the Congressman not only votes the NRA’s way, but also proactively sponsors legislation that they support.
Their policy is also weighted toward incumbents, something noted by the campaign of Critz’s Republican opponent Keith Rothfus. Campaign Manager Jon Raso pointed to Rothfus’s support from other gun rights groups in the race.
“While Congressman Critz may be endorsed based on the NRA’s “incumbent-friendly policy,” Keith Rothfus has received the highest possible rating from the NRA (AQ) for a challenger,” Raso said.
“Keith has also received the endorsement over Mr. Critz of the Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund and the Firearm Owners Against Crime, Western Pennsylvania’s leading Second Amendment organization.”
The NRA is to the Republican establishment what the GOA is to the Tea Party – the group tends to support the more conservative candidate in any general election or GOP primary.
Raso said Rothfus was the better choice for gun owners because he, unlike Critz, supports pro-gun leadership.
“There is a real distinction in this race because you cannot be pro-gun and pro-Pelosi (Mr. Critz voted for her as speaker) and you cannot be pro-gun and pro-Obama (Mr. Critz has endorsed him for a second term),” Raso added.
In related news, the candidates exchanged fire over an injury sustained by Rothfus recently while shooting a crossbow in Somerset County. It apparently resulted in a cut to Rothfus’s forehead. Critz mocked Rothfus about the incident via Twitter on Sunday night.
“Can’t wait to see you at the debate on Wed. Leave the crossbow at home. I hear that you’re not so good with those, country boy,” he continued. “Regular guys don’t end up with bandages from crossbows unless their regular guys!”
Rothfus brushed off the insults. “Utterly embarrassing from an elected member of Congress,” he tweeted.