In comments made to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Catherine Mortensen, a spokeswoman for the NRA’s lobbying arm, declared “Costello is a candidate we’re backing based on his solid support for our issues. He filled out the NRA questionnaire that we give to all candidates, and he’s a very strong candidate on the Second Amendment.”
With $10,000 donated directly to the first time challenger’s campaign this fall, the NRA has also expended $5,250 since June, seeking to get boots on the ground and on voter’s doorsteps. Under state campaign finance laws, the NRA may only commit such funds to indirectly support the candidate, without coordination from his campaign.
Noting that the contributions are only a small fraction of the $1 million in the campaign’s coffers, Costello spokesman Pete Peterson stated “Ryan is a proud supporter of the Second Amendment, and his record on public safety is second to none.”
Going further, the campaign denounced Trivedi as “an enemy of lawful gun owners.” Trivedi has indicated he would support bills to expand background checks and ban assault weapons.
Chris Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College noted that bringing the NRA into the fold may be a double-edged sword. On one hand, for “a lot of core Republican voters, gun rights remain one of the most important issues on the table.” However, on the other hand, in the districts wealthier suburbs, “an NRA message might be more divisive.”
Both Costello and Trivedi are freshman seekers of the seat forthcomingly vacated by the retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach.
Update: Trivedi campaign spokesman Daren Berringer issued the following response:
“As a veteran who served during the Iraq War and as a doctor, Manan has seen both the front and back end devastation that high-powered military weapons can cause. It is always amazing how those who have never been on the front lines of war or an emergency room can be so fervent in their support of such extreme views when it comes to guns.”
Update 2: Pete Peterson, Costello campaign spokesman responded with his own statement:
“Ryan is endorsed by multiple police organizations, first responders and firemen for his efforts to keep Chester County safe. These are our neighbors, and they know Ryan. Meanwhile Trivedi is embraced by out-of-state radical groups like MoveOn and has repeatedly pledged to left-wing websites that he’ll never be a moderate Democrat in Congress. The only thing that’s extreme in this race are Trivedi’s out-of-touch positions.”
Update 3: Berringer released yet another response:
“Ryan Costello is again trying to distract voters from the topic at hand. He attended a gun rally weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre and has now been endorsed by a group that wants to allow domestic abusers, felons, and people on the terrorist watch list to own guns. Manan agrees with the 92% of Americans who favor universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of these dangerous individuals.”