Election 2010: Pro-gun rights voters play major roll in statewide contests

by Chad D. Baus & Jim Irvine

The voters have spoken.

While a lot can and will be said about this election, as a non-partisan, one-issue PAC, our post-election analysis will stay focused on observations regarding how the outcome will affect gun rights issues in the months and years to come.

U.S. Senate:

In a must win race for gun owners, Rob Portman (R) defeated anti-gun and F-rated Lee Fisher (D) by 18%. Portman will replace a retiring George Voinovich. On a night when many are focusing on seats changing parties, some may overlook that Portman will be a much stronger advocate for sportsmen and gun owners. The next Senate will not only be more Republican, but also more gun-friendly. With Harry Reid winning in Nevada, and John Boehner expected to become the new Speaker of the House, gun owner have a strong firewall against President Obama's anti-gun agenda. (more on the U.S. Congress below)

Governor & Attorney General:

In the days leading up to the election, the fact that these two races were polling much, much closer than the other statewide races had out-of-state pundits scratching their heads.

"Why isn't John Kasich (R) blowing out Ted Strickland (D) like Rob Portman (R) is Lee Fisher (D)?" they wondered again and again. "Why, in the political climate we are in, was Strickland able to pull even with Kasich in the final week of the election?"

The answer was simple: Gun rights.

While John Kasich and Mike DeWine both won, their margins of victory were significantly less than the pro-gun Republicans on a statewide ballot - Kasich won by just over two percent, while DeWine won by less than two percent.

As far as the attorney general goes, we can only hope that Mike DeWine's campaign promises of having seen the light on gun issues were genuine, and that he will be as aggressive at in defending the constitutionality of Ohio's gun laws as his predecessors.

In the gubernatorial race, economic factors in the state set up what should have been a blowout advantage for Kasich. Kasich knew that and chose to ignore gun owners and failed to address his weak record on the issue for much of the campaign. Only when polls showed the contest had closed to a statistical dead heat did Kasich decide pro-gun votes were worth fighting for. For many gun owners, it was too little, too late.

At the end of the day, the strong momentum pro-gun voters gave to Ted Strickland was not enough to overcome the tidal wave of frustration over the economic situation in our state. But the strength of the gun rights issue in shaping elections can no longer be denied.

If the Republicans take nothing else away from this election, they must understand that they can no longer afford to take the gun vote for granted.

In the final days of this campaign, Kasich and his allies assured voters that he "will be strong defender of our right to keep and bear arms." Many A and A+ -rated legislators literally said that they were "willing to stake our reputations on it." They should be ready to prove they weren't misleading voters early on in the next General Assembly. And they'll have no excuse not to move pro-gun legislation, now that Ohio Republicans again control the House, Senate and governor's office. (more on the state legislative races below)

Auditor, Treasurer & Secretary of State

The secretary of state and treasurer races featured contests between strongly pro-gun Republicans (Husted and Mandel) versus BFA F-rated Democrats. In both races, the Democrats (O'Shaughnessy and Boyce) were trounced easily, with the pro-gun Republicans winning by 13% and 15% margins respectively. These decisive outcomes will hopefully end the political careers of two more vehemently anti-gun politicians.

In the auditor's race, BFA A-rated Dave Yost (R) won a significant victory over C-rated David Pepper (D). The fact that our current auditor is the new Lt. Governor-elect proves the importance of backing pro-gun candidates in every contest. Dave Yost is a strong pro-gun friend and will continue to be an advocate for gun rights for years to come.

U.S Congress

Ten of our endorsed candidates were victorious. Ohio will send five new congressmen to Washington, all of which are strong or moderately pro-gun. As noted above, BFA A-rated endorsee John Boehner is expected to become the new Speaker of the House. The net result for Ohio in 2010 is a stronger pro-gun Congressional block.

Ohio General Assembly

Ten of our endorsed candidates for state Senate were victorious. Both the Senate as a whole and the Republican majority will be stronger on the gun issue than they have been in the past. Victories by Jon Husted (Secretary of State-elect) and Tim Grendell (State Representative-elect) will leave vacancies, and we hope the Senate moves to replace them by equally strong pro-gun candidates.

In the House, 50 of our endorsed candidates won, with at least two other races destined for automatic recount. In addition, there are several races where pro-gun freshmen will replace pro-gun incumbents.

Republicans have regained the majority in the House, and will hold at least 54 of the 99 seats. BFA A-rated endorsee William Batchelder is expected to assume the role of Speaker of the House, a role he has sought for many years.

As a Republican, Governor-elect John Kasich will be blessed with strong pro-gun majorities in both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly, which will be able to help him prove to any doubters his commitment to the Second Amendment.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman. Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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