Is anti-gun Brady Campaign's DeWine endorsement MEANT to help him lose?

By Chad D. Baus

(UPDATE: This commentary has been published at

Since national politics are filled with conspiracy theories these days, I would like to offer up one more theory for them to chew on:

Republican Senator Mike DeWine was given an endorsement by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Handgun Control Inc.) out of a desire for gun controllers to see him lose on November 7.

Though conspiracists these days are open even to the possibility that President Bush actually conspired to create the 9-11 attack on America, I am certain some will have trouble accepting my theory about Brady endorsement. So let me explain.

Senator Mike DeWine and Congressman Sherrod Brown have equally deplorable records on gun rights. As noted in a recent Dayton Daily News article, both men supported the Brady-backed Clinton Assault Weapons Ban, and both men took the Brady position in opposition to legislation which barred gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers or importers from frivolous lawsuits designed to put them out of business.

With their hatred for gun rights seemingly equal, the endorsement and strong support offered by Brady's Peter Hamm seems to make little sense.

From the Dayton Daily News:

[Our] organization has endorsed DeWine. Brown "is a fine, fine man and would make a fine, fine senator," Hamm said. "But Mike DeWine has been there for us in such a serious and morally righteous way that we will do anything to help him get re-elected that is within our sphere."

Yet even as opinion surveys were showing Brown as the consistent leader in this albeit close contest, the Brady Bunch chose to give DeWine the first 2006 endorsement for U.S. Senate. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, which employs Brown's wife (anti-gun columnist Connie Schultz), covered that announcement last June:

Sherrod Brown has a perfectly fine record on our issues, so we are by no means saying anything critical of Mr. Brown," Hamm said. But DeWine's record really wowed the group.

In that same Plain Dealer blog post, Hamm is quoted as saying DeWine "doesn't hide from [his anti-gun voting record] at all."

Hamm's almost religious exuberance for DeWine is unusual. Conventional wisdom for political advocacy groups is that rarely is anything to be gained by choosing among friends in such contests. So what's behind this very public anti-gun praise-fest for DeWine, given the recent penchant for anti-gunners to don camo as elections loom?

It is this writer's opinion that the Brady bunch is hoping their vocal support for DeWine will suppress the conservative vote and increase Sherrod Brown's chances of victory.

In Ohio alone, approximately 1/2 million people have hunting and/ or concealed handgun licenses. And according to the Minneapolis StarTribune's Dennis Anderson, Ohio gun owners made up 27 percent of the total vote in Ohio in the year 2000.

Nationwide polling indicates that control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance this November. If Mike DeWine and a handful of other Republicans lose their races, anti-gun Democrats including Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton will be the Majority Party.

Now what seems more likely, that Brady is doing "anything to help [Mike DeWine] get re-elected" because "his record really wowed the group" (thereby ensuring two more years of pro-gun leadership in the Senate), or that Brady is doing everything it can to trumpet DeWine's anti-gun voting record in effort to discourage the Ohio GOP's conservative base (thereby increasing Democrats' chances for retaking the Senate)?

When no one is looking, I suspect the Brady bunch cronies are smiling. And if the conspiracy theorists listen closely, they may even hear them whisper Sherrod Brown's campaign slogan:

"We're in this together."

Chad D. Baus is the Vice Chairman of Buckeye Firearms Association, and a Fulton Co. (Ohio) Republican Central Committeeman.

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