Pro-gun Democrats should look west to find hope in the Presidential primary
By Chad D. Baus
Jockeying for position for the 2008 Presidential primary race began earlier than ever this election cycle, and for gun owners in both parties, the signs have been bleak.
However, pro-gun voters who will vote in the 2008 Republican primary got a lift in their spirits last month when actor and former Senator Fred Thompson announced that he was considering a Presidential run. But what of the Democrat primary? With the establishment media filled with talk of gun-ban extremist Senator Hillary Clinton (NY) and the equally scary Senator Barack Hussein Obama (IL), Democrats who vote freedom first may be unaware that there is a pro-gun candidate who could use their support.
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New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson declared his candidacy in January, just hours after Sens. Clinton and Obama made their intentions clear, making history by seeking to become the first Hispanic president of the United States.
Richardson spent 15 years in Congress before being named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by in 1997. A year later he was appointed energy secretary. Richardson returned to elected office in 2002, winning the gubernatorial race. Last fall he cruised to a second term with 69 percent of the vote.
In a National Review Online article discussing the various candidates and their positions on gun rights, Dave Kopel notes that as a U.S. representative and as governor, Richardson "compiled an impeccable record" on guns.
- Unlike Governor Romney, Governor Richardson took a leading role in promoting pro-rights reforms. The most significant of Richardson’s successes was “shall issue” concealed-carry licensing, so that adults who pass a background check and a safety class can obtain a permit to carry a handgun for lawful protection. His record contrasts with that of former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, who signed a good bill which prohibited local gun bans, but who opposed “shall issue” and prevented it from becoming law in Wisconsin.
A blemish on Richardson’s gun rights record is his service as Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to the United Nations, when he failed to mount a strong opposition to the development of the international gun-control agenda — although it is doubtful that Richardson had any choice in the matter, given the Clinton administration’s fervent stance on the matter.
Elsewhere in his article, Kopel speculates on the potential for the National Rifle Association's endorsement to go to a Democrat in 2008. Kopel notes that there is one simple reason why the NRA endorsement (or withholding of same) is so important. "[Since 1977], there has been an easy way to predict who will win the presidential election. If the Republican is endorsed by the NRA Political Victory Fund, he wins (Reagan 1980 and 1984, G.H.W. Bush 1988, G.W. Bush 2000, 2004). If the NRA does not endorse the Republican, he loses (G.H.W. Bush 1992, Dole 1996)."
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if Giuliani, McCain or Romney become the GOP nominee, it is highly likely they'll join G.H.W. Bush '92 and Dole '96 as Republicans trying to win without the support of the NRA.
To reinforce the point, Kopel concludes his comments on Richardson by saying that "if the Republicans nominated Giuliani and the Democrats Richardson, the NRA would be crazy not to support Richardson with everything in its political arsenal."
And as Jim Geraghty wrote in the New York Sun on April 5, “the thinking within the [NRA] is that it would eagerly endorse a consistently pro-gun Democrat over a Republican who has been inconsistent in protecting Second Amendment rights.”
Right now, RasmussenReports.com shows that Governor Richardson is holding down fourth place in public opinion polling, behind Clinton, Obama and former John Kerry running-mate John Edwards. Much as was the case with Republican primary field before Fred Thompson's name popped up, pro-gun Democrat primary voters have little to be excited about with Clinton, Obama and Edwards. But in Bill Richardson, pro-gun Democrats will find a candidate that has a proven record of advocacy for the right that protects all others.
Chad Baus is a Member of the Fulton County, OH Republican Central Committee and the Buckeye Firearms Association Northwest Ohio Chair.
Might there be a pro-gun GOP Presidential contender after all?