NRA Endorsements In Alaska Offer Suprises

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The National Rifle Association (NRA) has released their 2016 endorsements in Alaska races and there are a few surprises.

In Alaska, the general consensus among political professionals is that an NRA endorsement is one of the few endorsements that truly matters because it “moves the needle.”

Unlike other endorsements from well-known individuals or interest organization, the NRA endorsement is something of a double whammy for Alaska politicians. The group is uniquely positioned to be the best, and perhaps only significant validator of where candidates stand on one of the core policy issues in American history: gun rights.

The gun rights issue is itself used by many voters as a validator of what a candidate is. An NRA endorsed candidate isn’t only good on guns, they probably aren’t too liberal on anything. Any candidate who gets the NRA endorsement becomes largely immune to attacks they aren’t conservative enough.

So who got the NRA endorsements in their races this year? We will cover just a few of the more interesting ones. You can view the full list here.

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U.S. President
Endorsement goes to — Donald Trump

It Makes sense. Nobody shoots themselves in the foot like Trump

U.S. Senate
Endorsement goes to — Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Ha, you didn’t see that coming, did you? Everyone would have thought Joe Miller, a guy who refers to his supporters as “patriots” was a lock for this endorsement and certainly against a bonafide moderate like Murkowski. But Murkowski wrapped up the endorsement and likely put the last nail in Joe Miller or Margaret Stock’s election night dreams.

Due to the nature of the NRA ratings, coming from questionnaires as well as an elected official’s track record, one is tempted to think Murkowski got the endorsement because Miller got in the race so late the NRA didn’t have a chance to evaluate him. The NRA put out a statement on Sept 28th, well after Miller got into the race, with an “A” rating and glowing praise for the incumbent:

“Lisa Murkowski has a proven record of fighting for our Second Amendment freedoms. She has demonstrated her strong support for law-abiding gun owners in Alaska and throughout the United States,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman, NRA-PVF. “We can trust Lisa to continue her opposition to the Obama/Bloomberg/Hillary Clinton gun control agenda.”

U.S. House
Endorsement goes to — Rep. Don Young

You kind of get the sense whenever Young talks that he’d rather be shooting something. The bigger story he is that his Democrat challenger Steve Lindbeck got a “?”. That usually means the candidate didn’t return the NRA’s questionnaire. Given Lindbeck is a longtime newspaper man and presumably knows how to write an opinion, his unwillingness to do so on this issue raises the “what are you hiding” red flag on an issue of paramount importance to many Alaskans.

State Legislature

Generally speaking, endorsements went to Republicans with many Democrats not getting any rating (not returning the survey).

Here are some of the exceptions or interesting variations from that trend.

Senate Seat B
Endorsement goes to — Sen. John Coghill

It isn’t a surprise that Republican Coghill got the endorsement over lefty Luke Hopkins. That is how most of the endorsements went. What is a surprise is that while Coghill got an “A+”, Hopkins got the worst grade of all Alaska candidates, an “F”. To get that kind of a grade you should have to oppose all private gun ownership by U.S. citizens but favor distributing firearms and ammunition at the border to all the illegals flooding in.

Who know, maybe that is Hopkins’ position.

Senate Seat H
Endorsement goes to — Sen. Bill Wielechowski

Both Sen. Wielechowski and his Republican challenger Kevin Kastner received As. The tie breaker for Wielechowski is the NRA’s rule that non-incumbent’s maximum grade is an “Aq”, signifying they answered all of the questionnaire questions perfectly, but have no legislative track record to go on. Elected officials, on the other hand are eligible for an “A+”, because they have answers and a record to score. Wielechowski apparently did well on both and his record broke the tie.

Along with his “I’m defending the PFD when no one else will” lawsuit, the NRA endorsement is likely the last bit of momentum and messaging Wielechowski needed to sew up re-election.

That isn’t stopping Kastner from trying to spin the results for the best:

Senate Seat L
Endorsement goes to — No one

The shocker here is Republican candidate Natasha Von Imhof only got a “C” rating. Her Democrat opponent Forrest McDonald has to be kicking himself. He apparently didn’t return the NRA’s survey and thus got no rating at all. You’d think he could have beaten a “C’ and snagged the endorsement, right? Too bad Forrest. And too bad for gun loving south-siders.

House District 7
Endorsement goes to — Sherie Olson

You are probably saying “who is Sherie Olson?” Don’t feel bad, as the Democrat running for the Wasilla house seat there isn’t much chance she’ll win and thus not much reason for most media to give her attention. She scored an “Aq” with the NRA, and that was good enough to beat out Republican Colleen Sullivan-Leonard’s “?” she got probably for not returning the survey.

This a hard area for a Democrat to win, but Sullivan-Leonard had better be careful. Just remember what happened to this district’s incumbent, Rep. Lynn Gattis, in the primary.

House District 11
Endorsement goes to — No one

In the Palmer area house seat, both the Republican DeLena Johnson and Independent Bert Verrall scored top marks on their surveys and received tieing “Aq” ratings. Don’t feel bad valley gun lovers, whoever wins your interests are well represented.

House District 14
Endorsement goes to — Rep. Lora Reinbold

Reinbold got the endorsement, but with a less than perfect “A-” rating. And there we were, thinking she was a conservative.

State House District 28
Endorsement goes to — No one

More bad news for gunnies on the south side of Anchorage. Neither Republican Jennifer Johnston nor Democrat Shirley Cote returned the surveys so the NRA had nothing to endorse.

State House Districts 30 and 31
Endorsement goes to — No one in either district

Is it really possible that this far out from the election it is clear most of the Kenai Peninsula will not have an NRA endorsed candidate on the ballot? Republicans Gary Knopp and Rep. Paul Seaton scored lackluster grades of “B+” and “B” respectively and Democrat Shauna Thornton didn’t complete the survey. As a result, none of them will be endorsed.

State House Districts 33-36
Endorsement goes to — No one

Hmmm, Southeast Alaska must hate guns. Not a single one of their state house candidates scored above a “B+”, not even Republicans Rep. Cathy Munoz and Sheila Finkenbinder.

The big question here goes to non-partisan Rep. Dan Ortiz. He scored a “D” rating from the NRA. If you are going to do that poorly, why fill out and return the survey at all?

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