NRA Endorses Jean Schmidt for US Congress

by Chad D. Baus, Vice Chairman
Ohioans For Concealed Carry PAC

Making endorsements can be an extremely difficult endeavor.

In late 2003, the OFCC PAC made an endorsement among two candidates who were friendly to the concealed carry issue. To illustrate the difficulty in making such decisions under these circumstances, the headline over the endorsement was titled "Choosing among friends".

In the end, our endorsee, Rep. Jean Schmidt, lost to Rep. Tom Niehaus by 22 votes. Niehaus went on to win the general election in 2004, and can certainly be expected to serve the concealed carry issue well as a state Senator.

We raise this (rather difficult) issue to attention again today in response to an article in today's Cincinnati Enquirer, in which Democrat candidate for US Congress expresses his disappointment that his opponent (by way of coincidence, Jean Schmidt) received the NRA's endorsement.

From the story:

    Democrat Paul Hackett can be forgiven if he doesn't renew his membership in the National Rifle Association next year.

    The NRA's Political Victory Fund has given its endorsement to Jean Schmidt, Hackett's Republican opponent in the 2nd Congressional District's Aug. 2 special election, despite the fact that the Democratic candidate is an avid hunter, serious gun collector, holder of a concealed-carry permit and a card-carrying member of the NRA.

    "I don't know what I have to do," said Hackett, a 43-year-old lawyer from Indian Hill. "I've gone against the grain in the Democratic party. There isn't a bigger gun enthusiast than me."

    About two weeks after Hackett returned from a seven-month tour as a Marine Corps Reserve major in Iraq, Hackett applied for and received a permit under Ohio's concealed-carry law, a piece of legislation that Schmidt voted for last year when she served in the Ohio General Assembly.

In most cases, when faced with the "problem" of two strong pro-gun candidates, the OFCC PAC has simply told its supporters that both candidates are worthy of support on our issue, and that voters should decide on other matters important to them. In other cases, such as the Schmidt v. Niehaus primary last year, we have determined that choosing among friends was, while difficult, a necessary thing.

The NRA, it appears, has had to make the same type of difficult choice in this instance. Again, from the story:

    It was Schmidt's legislative record on gun issues that made the difference in the NRA's endorsement process, said Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA's director of public affairs.

    "She has a record as an elected official voting our way on the issues," said Arulanandam. "Her opponent doesn't. Sometimes, we have two good candidates in a race and the difference boils down to the fact that one has a legislative record."

    Schmidt served two terms in the Ohio House. Hackett has served on Milford council.

    The endorsement of Schmidt, Arulanandam said, "shouldn't be construed as casting aspersions on her opponent."

Certainly no one will be surprised if Mr. Hackett doesn't see it this way, but there is no doubt that this difficult decision would not have been made by the NRA had they not believed it was truly the best course of action. Now, it's up to the voters to decide. Polls will open for the 2nd Congressional District's special election on August 2nd.

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