In a very tough election climate for Republicans, the good news is that the gun issue is increasingly non-partisan. We can see this every day in the Senate, where Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is friendlier towards the Second Amendment than was Republican Senate majority leader Howard Baker in the 1980s.
We can also see this in the potential results. The very worst-case scenario for the Second Amendment is -7 in the Senate, and -26 in the House. This would be a terrible outcome, but it is considerably better than the very worst-case scenario for Republicans in both houses. That the former is better than the latter reflects the National Rifle Association’s success in working with pro-gun Democrats. Obviously the more realistic scenario would be smaller losses in both houses, with perhaps a few pick-ups in the U.S. House.
There are a lot of races were pro-gun Republican incumbents are being challenged by pro-gun Democrats — no net loss for the Second Amendment. As for the races where anti-gun Republicans face anti-gun Democrats, there is a peripheral Second Amendment value in a Republican win, in that it is important for the Democrats’ margin of control to depend on pro-gun Democrats; that way, the leadership sees the issue as a crucial one.
What follows is a Second Amendment overview of every governor and U.S. Senate race, and the top 50 House races identified by RealClearPolitics. Print it and take it with you to the polls. But first, a quick look at the situation in the nation as a whole. Here’s a summary of the races most likely to make a difference.
Potential Senate losses: Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon.
Potential Senate gains: Louisiana.
Certain Senate gain: Virginia.
Potential House losses: Alaska, Arizona (2), California (1), Colorado (1), Florida (4), Idaho (1), Michigan (2), Minnesota (1), Missouri (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (2), New York (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (1), Virginia (1).
Potential House gains: Kentucky (1), New Hampshire (1), Pennsylvania (1).
In the state-by-state analysis below, the first grade listed for each candidate is from the the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund. A “?” means that the candidate did not respond to the NRA questionnaire. An “AQ” is for a candidate whose answers to the 2008 NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire are good, but who does not have a track record of Second Amendment votes.
The second grade is from the Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund, which tends to grade much more severely than does the NRA. GOA’s scorecard this does not include governor races. An “NR” means the candidate did not respond to the GOA questionnaire. A candidate who refused to respond to both the GOA and the NRA questionnaires can safely be assumed to be anti-gun. Alabama Alabama’s two competitive House race are good examples of relatively conservative, pro-gun Democrats running competitively in traditionally Republican territory.
Senate: Republican Jeff Sessions (A+,A) vs. Democrat Vivian Figures (NR, NR).
House, 2nd District: Republican Jay Love (A,A) vs. Democrat Bobby Bright (AQ, NR)
House, 5th District: Republican Wayne Parker (R) (AQ, A) vs. Democrat Parker Griffith (D)(A, NR). Alaska Senate: Republican Ted Stevens (A+,C) vs. Democrat Mark Begich (AQ,D).
At-large House seat: Republican Don Young (A+,B) v. Democrat Ethan Berkowitz (C,C). Arizona House, 1st District: Republican Sydney Hay (AQ,A) vs. Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick (D,NR).
House, 3rd District: Republican John Shadegg (A,A-) vs. Democrat Bob Lord (?,NR).
Arkansas Senate: Democrat Mark Pryor (C-,D), unopposed. California McClintock has been an outstanding leader on right to arms issues in California. His 2001 speech on the subject in a classic, displaying a deep understanding of the importance of firearms ownership to a free society.
House, 4th District: Republican Tom McClintock (A,A) vs. Democrat Charlie Brown (B-,NR).
Colorado House candidate Musgrave is one of the founders of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus.
Senate: Republican Bob Schaffer (A,A) vs. Democrat Mark Udall (C,F).
House, 4th District: Republican Marilyn Musgrave (A,A) vs. Democrat Betsy Markey (?,NR).
Delaware If Markell wins the governorship, it would postpone the enactment of concealed-carry-licensing reform.
Senate: Republican Christine O’Donnell (AQ,NR) vs. Democrat Joe Biden (F,F-).
Governor: Republican Bill Lee vs. Democrat Jack Markell.
Florida Five of the 50 most-competitive House races this year are here. Four of them involve pro-gun Republican incumbents facing anti-gun Democrats. The one endangered Democrat, Tim Mahoney, gets mixed grades and faces a pro-gun challenger.
Senate: Republican Saxby Chambliss (A+,A) vs. Democrat Jim Martin (?,C).
House, 8th District: Republican Rep. Ric Keller (A,A) vs. Democrat Alan Grayson (?,NR).
House, 16th District: Democrat Tim Mahoney (A,C) vs. Tom Rooney (AQ,A).
House, 21st District: Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart (A-,A-) vs. Democrat Raul Martinez (?,NR).
House, 24th District: Republican Tom Feeney (A+,A) vs. Democrat Suzanne Kosmas (F,F).
House, 25th District: Republican Mario Diaz-Balart (A,A-) vs. Democrat Joe Garcia (?,NR).
Georgia Senate: Republican Saxby Chambliss (A+,A) vs. Democrat Jim Martin (?,C).
House, 8th District: Republican Rick Goddard (AQ,NR) vs. Democrat Jim Marshall (A,B)
Idaho Senate: Republican Jim Risch (A,A) vs. Democrat Larry LaRocco (A,A).
House, 1st District: Republican Bill Sali (A,A+) vs. Democrat Walt Minnick (D+,NR).
Illinois In the House, there are two opportunities for Democrats to pick up seats, but the results will not alter the Illinois delegation’s Second Amendment balance.
Senate: Republican Steve Sauerberg (AQ,D) vs. Democrat Richard Durbin (F,F-).
House, 10th District: Republican Mark Kirk (F,F) vs. Democrat Dan Seals (?,NR).
House, 11th District: Republican Martin Ozinga (AQ,A) vs. Democrat Debbie Halvorson (A,A)
Indiana Governor: Republican Mitch Daniels (A+) vs. Democrat Jill Long Thompson (D).
IowaSenate: Republican Christopher Reed (AQ,A) vs. Democrat Tom Harkin (F,F).
Kansas Senate: Republican Pat Roberts (A,B) vs. Democrat Jim Slattery (F,F).
House, 2nd District: Republican Lynn Jenkins (C,C) vs. Democrat Nancy Boyda (C,B-).Kansas has a great collection of Second Amendment activists, but the Republicans have given them no reason to help with a possible House pick-up this year.
Kentucky Senate: Republican Mitch McConnell (A,B) vs. Democrat Bruce Lunsford (?,NR).
House, 3rd District: Republican Anne Northup (A,A-) vs. Democrat John Yarmuth (F,F).
Louisiana Republican John Kennedy (A,A) vs. Democrat Mary Landrieu (C,F).
House, 6th District: Republican Bill Cassidy (A,NR) vs. Democrat Don Cazayoux (A,A-).
Maine Senate: Republican Susan Collins (C+,F) vs. Democrat Tom Allen (F,F).
Massachusetts Senate: Republican Jeff Beatty (A,NR) vs. Democrat John Kerry (F,F-).
Michigan Senate: Republican Jack Hoogendyk (A,A) vs. Democrat Carl Levin (F,F).