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NRA Grades & Endorsements: PA Rundown

The National Rifle Association is one of America’s most powerful interest groups. See how they graded candidates in PA’s top races. No U.S. Senate endorsement (Smith A, Casey B+), and several candidates got A’s who you might not expect (Kathy Boockvar). Plus state House and Senate races.

What makes the NRA’s endorsement so highly prized? Their membership comprises many devout, single-issue voters. Each of those members will receive an orange postcard with the names of endorsed candidates, more valuable to a campaign than any other mail piece.

They’re just as willing to endorse a Democrat as a Republican, and will defer to endorsing an incumbent if both candidates in a race have decent ratings.

The grades work as letter grades in school. “AQ” means that a candidate with no voting record said all the right things in his or her questionnaire, but doesn’t have any voting record one way or the other. “A+” means the candidate not only votes with the NRA, but proactively sponsors pro-gun legislation. “?” means the NRA did not receive a candidate’s questionnaire.

You can see the full list here. We’ve picked out the most interesting ones.

U.S. Senate

Tom Smith (R): A
Sen. Bob Casey (D): B+
No endorsement

Casey finds electoral success as a self-described pro-life, pro-gun Democrat. His NRA rating is solid, though half a grade shy of being fodder for campaign literature. “Bob Casey has a record of supporting the Second Amendment and the interests of Pennsylvania sportsmen,” said Campaign Manager Larry Smar.

“On the federal issues we track, Casey has followed in lock step with the NRA,” said Max Nacheman of CeasefirePA, a group that advocates stronger gun laws and is often at odds with the NRA.

How then, did he fall shy of an “A,” his grade in his 2006 campaign? It looks like his votes to confirm Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, both of which were graded by the NRA, were enough to knock him down.

The winner is Smith who, despite having no no voting record, avoided the “AQ” and got an “A”. It’s probably because he is a lifetime NRA member and has contributed thousands of dollars to his local chapter over the years. PoliticsPA is seeking to confirm that with the NRA.

Smith spokeswoman Megan Piwowar pounced on the rating.

“Senator Casey’s NRA downgrade not only demonstrates his weakness on issues important to Pennsylvania sportsmen, but is further evidence of a crumbling myth – Bob Casey is not independent, but rather a rubber stamp for the far left leaders of his party,” she said. “In stark contrast, citizen candidate Tom Smith received a higher grade because of his lifelong commitment to protecting our second amendment rights.”

Top Congressional Races

Endorsement: Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R): A
Kathy Boockvar (D): AQ

Boockvar, who is not shy about her liberal leanings, didn’t get the NRA’s backing. But she did get a nice talking point for campaign literature. Expect to hear about here “A” rating the next time Republicans seek to cast Boockvar as radical.

Endorsement: Rep. Mark Critz (D): A+
Keith Rothfus (R): AQ

Check out PoliticsPA’s story on how this significant endorsement impacts the 12th district race.

Endorsement: Rep. Tim Murphy (R): A
Larry Maggi (D): AQ

This is another case of a southwest Pa. Dem who knows the NRA unlocks a lot of potential support. Maggi owns several guns and is very conversant on the subject, but it’s hard to get to the right of Murphy on the issue.

Other congressionals

Endorsement: Rep. Jim Gerlach (R): A
Manan Trivedi (D): ?

Endorsement: Rep. Pat Meehan (R): A
George Badey (D): ?


Attorney General
Endorsement: Dave Freed (R): AQ
Kathleen Kane (D): ?

And here are the NRA’s endorsements in the top state House and Senate races.

State Senate Races

Endorsement: John McNally (R): AQ
Rob Teplitz (D): ?

Endorsement: Sen. Dave Argall (R): A
Tim Seip (D): A

Raja (R): AQ
Matt Smith (D): B
No endorsement

Endorsement: Sen. Elder Vogel (R): A
Kim Villella (D): AQ

Endorsement: Janet Anderson (R): AQ
Sean Wiley (D): ?

State House Races

Ryan Bizzaro (D): AQ
Jason Owen (R): AQ
No endorsement

Endorsement: Rep. Rob Matzie (D): A
Kathy Coder (R): AQ

Endorsement: Rep. Joe Markosek (D): A
Mike Doyle (R): AQ

Anne Chapman (R): AQ
Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D): C
No endorsement

Endorsement: Rep. Rick Saccone (R): A+
David Levdansky (D): F

Endorsement: Rep. Bryan Barbin (D): A
Sherry Stalley (R): AQ

Mark McCracken (D): AQ
Tom Sankey (R): AQ
No endorsement

Endorsement: Rep. Rick Mirabito (D): A-
Harry Rogers (R): AQ

Endorsement: Rep. Justin Simmons (R): A-
Kevin Deely (D): ?

Endorsement: Rep. Dan Truitt (R): B+
Bret Binder (D): ?

Rep. Warren Kampf (R): B
Paul Drucker (D): D
No endorsement

Rep. John Taylor (R): C
William Dunbar (D): ?
No endorsement

9 Responses

  1. Um Larry, please explain how Tim Murphy appointed himself to the military. How exactly did that happen! Watch out, next thing you know Tim Murphy is going to appoint himself Washington County Commissioner. Or maybe President of the United States. Larry can then ask President Murphy to appoint him to Congress! You might want to go back to the drawing board on your attacks, Lar. That is the most moronic idiotic thing Larry Maggi has ever said, and that is saying ALOT!

  2. The Maggi Team is in utter meltdown. Now they are attacking Murphy and a non-profit for helping cancer patients. Wow. Why does Larry hate cancer patients? Oh, I get it. Larry hates Murphy for kicking his a$$ a decade ago, so what does it matter if Larry attacks Mario Lemieux as his 2nd pathetic bid for Congress flounders. Meanwhile Larry diverts casino money to local FOR profits that lo and behold, endorse Larry’s lame comeback bid and tuck a big fact kickback check in the back-pocket of his Wrangler jeans. Larry still hasn’t released his military records explaining his deferment from combat during the height of the Vietnam War. And when is Larry releasing his tax records explaining how this good old boy from Claysville can afford a personal loan to his campaign for a cool quarter mil. I guess Larry wont be paying back taxpayers for buying campaign materials a decade ago when he got his butt kicked? You guys are klowns.

  3. Don’t be fooled…we all know that it is Tyler and his uneducated high school help posting these stupid ignorant comments. Tim Murphy APPOINTED himself to the military and then claimed he was a soldier harmed in combat…PLEASE. We all know he never served a moment of boot camp. There are soldiers that have spent months and years away from their families to serve in the military whether it be combat or training. Murphy has the nerve to claim he’s a part of the military and never served a moment in any sort of training, combat or boot camp. Look it up, Larry Maggi is a member of the Marine Corp and served his country in training and boot camp. Whether or not he was ever deployed…he still served our country and didn’t APPOINT himself an officer in the military like our joke of a congressman Murphy! At least Larry Maggi choose to earn the honor of being a Marine…he didn’t use his power to make him a member of the military. I guess shows how Tim Murphy really is….claims he is a REAL officer of the military….claims he has medical experience…come on.

  4. Anyone seen Larry’s campaign propaganda where Larry’s pointing his machine guns in the air with a crazy as$ smile on his face? Hide your children, no one is safe. Nothing that Larry the constant candidate won’t to do to grab the gun vote, but ha-ha …Larry didn’t get the NRA endorsement! Haha. And isn’t it a violation of the military code to use those pictures in campaign materials. Not that Larry is known to follow any campaign rules or laws

  5. Larry Maggi spent less that a year and a half in uniform during the height of the Vietnam war. Larry was never was deployed, Larry never stepped foot overseas. Larry Maggi never spent a single day in Vietnam, not one day in combat. That’s highly suspicious for an enlistee to get out of going to war during the draft. How’d Larry get that deferment? Slow down Craig, you prob don’t want to open that can of worms!

  6. Murphy has no idea what people in western pa do with guns or how important they are. Maggi is the clear choice for anyone who owns a gun!

  7. I’m pretty sure you can get to the right on this subject on Murphy. Maggi is a lifelong military officer and police officer. Murphy never saw combat. I’ll take Maggi on that one in a heartbeat.

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