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NRA Backs McDonnell

Rosalind Helderman

What a difference four years makes.

When Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell ran against each other for attorney general in 2005, the National Rifle Association's political action committee took the unusual step of endorsing Deeds, the rural Democrat, over McDonnell.

Not this year.

Chris W. Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, announced this afternoon that the group has endorsed McDonnell for governor and will urge the NRA's 120,000 Virginia members to vote for the Republican.

Cox told reporters in a conference call that the group was impressed by an amicus brief McDonnell filed in 2008 along with 30 other state attorney generals urging the Supreme Court to strike down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban. He also praised McDonnell for standing against New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has contended that criminals buy guns in Virginia because of its less restrictive laws and take them to New York.

Cox, meanwhile, declared that NRA members have been "shocked and disappointed" at Deeds because of his support in recent years for closing the so-called gun show loophole, which allows private individuals to sell weapons at shows without conducting the background checks required of weapons dealers. Deeds once opposed changing the law but has changed his position, he says in response to requests from family members of victims of the Virginia Tech shooting.

"Obviously a lot has changed in the last four years," Cox said. "Two things that haven't changed is the NRA and Bob McDonnell. The one thing that did change was Creigh Deeds."

McDonnell said he was "delighted" to receive the NRA's nod and promised that as governor he would protect second amendment rights. He said the NRA's support, along with his endorsement by the Farm Bureau several weeks ago, showed that his campaign was being embraced by groups with particular currency in rural areas of the state, where Deeds has been making a push.

"I've long been a strong defender of public safety. People who commit crimes with guns ought to be punished and punished severely," McDonnell said. "At the same time, law abiding citizens ought to be able to use firearms for whatever lawful purpose they choose."

The Deeds campaign, which Monday was endorsed by Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, has already responded to the NRA news. Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold noted Deeds' lifetime A rating from the NRA and his sponsorship of Virginia's constitutional amendment protecting the right to hunt and fish.

"As a lifelong gun owner and hunter, Creigh Deeds is a committed supporter of the Second Amendment," Leopold said in a statement. "While it appears that his work on closing the gun show loophole following the Virginia Tech tragedy may have lost him this endorsement, Creigh looks forward to working with the NRA as governor to continue to protect our Second Amendment rights."

(A McDonnell spokesman also told the Roanoke Times in 2005 that the NRA's endorsement of Deeds would have a "very small impact" on that election. "At the end of the day, Virginia voters will see that there is very little difference between the candidates on Second Amendment issues," McDonnell spokesman John Phllippe said then.)

By Rosalind Helderman  |  September 14, 2009; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Comments

This is bad for MR Deeds. When will Democrats realize The NRA and Unions go hand in hand with The NRA trumping unions?

I'm a 25 year union member and would've liked to vote for MR Deeds. BUT, the basic human right and constitutional right of owning and bearing arms must come even before my union.

Mr Deeds has pandered to a very small group of people, probably thru sympathy. How about sympathy for the rest of us too in our quest to circumvent the constant attacks to protect ourselves against thieves, rapists, and murderers?

Firearms are personal proprety, and I'll reserve the right to sell one in order to buy another if I wish. MR Deeds subscription to "just a little more" gun banning will cost him the unions and the election. He should've moved to Maryland to try this.

There are 120,000 Virginian NRA members, more than the union's numbers. Add in the union's lost support, Virginia Citizen Defense League, Gun Owners of America, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, ect, ect...and the balance has difinitivley just tipped. MR Deeds has illustrated yet again Democrats are hostile to gun ownership, and signed off any chance he had.
Respectfully,
-VCDL member in VA-

Posted by: confedrate1111 | September 14, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

If the expression "SALT OF THE EARTH" has any referance point at all it's the membership of the NRA. Attend an NRA convention and you'll see and hear hundreds of men and women from all walks of life, masses of honest, productive, independantly thinking ,law abiding citizens who revere God and country. In it's entire history the NRA has never considered the race, religion or nationality of an applicant. It only asks respect for the law and the entire Constition of the United States. While the NRA focuses on the 2nd ammendment, the 2nd ammendment is most certainly a surragate and a bellweather for the state of our other rights and liberties.

I for one have no problem in holding attitudes toward the 2nd ammendment paramount in my selection of political candidates.
To millions,the NRA is the fresh air and sunlight that exposes and repels sinister political roaches who view the Bill of Rights as an obsticle to their achieving total control of our lives.

Posted by: woodpiggie1 | September 15, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

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