Under the Gun: A Second Amendment Look at the Elections

by Dave Kopel

National Review Online, Oct. 30, 2012

"Where are the most important opportunities and dangers for the Second Amendment in the congressional and gubernatorial races? Here’s a state-by-state rundown, including every gubernatorial and U.S. Senate election, plus all of the U.S. House races that Stuart Rothenberg does not classify as safe.

To summarize: The three gubernatorial races that are close and that feature major differences between the candidates on Second Amendment issues are Washington, Montana, and New Hampshire.

In the Senate, gun owners start off with a guaranteed gain of three seats on Election Night, regardless of which party wins, in Indiana, New Mexico, and North Dakota. In four states — Arizona, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Virginia — there are serious risks that seats could be taken by new senators hostile to gun rights. Plausible opportunities to gain seats for the Second Amendment exist in Maine, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In these eight swing Senate states considered together, the possibility of a net loss probably exceeds the possibility of a net gain.

As for the U.S. House, a rough estimate would be that if the net gain for Democrats is x, then the net loss for gun owners will be about one-half or two-thirds of x. In swing districts, most candidates are unwilling to forgo the 5 percent of the vote that can be lost by opposing Second Amendment rights. So, in these districts, candidates of both parties tend to support the Second Amendment. Thus, the net change in House composition on the gun issue tends to be smaller than the net party change in any given year.

For each candidate below, I list the party affiliation, and then the candidate’s grade from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund. The grade of “AQ” is given to a candidate whose answers to the 2012 NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire are very good, but who does not have a track record of Second Amendment votes. A grade of “n/a” means that the candidate did not respond to the NRA questionnaire.


Senate: Republican Minority Whip Jon Kyl is retiring. He was swept into office by the 1994 NRA landslide, and he never forgot it. U.S. Representative Jeff Flake (R., A), formerly ran the Goldwater Institute, a pro–Second Amendment think tank. He has a very close race with former Bush surgeon general Richard Carmona (D., n/a).

House, first district (northeast). This open-seat race features two state legislators, both with good records on guns: Jonathan Paton (R., A) vs. Ann Kirkpatrick (D., A).

House, second district (southeast): Former Gabrielle Giffords staffer Ron Barber (D., n/a) versus former Air Force combat fighter pilot Martha McSally (R., AQ).

House, ninth district (new seat): Social worker Krysten Sinema (D., F), faces off with Vernon Parker (R., AQ), who would be the first black elected to Congress from Arizona.


Senate: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., F) worked relentlessly to pass the 1994 ban on over 200 semi-automatic firearms, which sunset in 2004. She is well ahead of businesswoman Elizabeth Emken (R., AQ).

House, third district (East Bay): A longtime state official, John Garamendi (D., F) has consistently represented the viewpoint of the Bay Area’s anti-gun bigots. He is challenged by County Supervisor Kim Vann (R., AQ).

House, seventh district (Sacramento suburbs): Dan Lungren (R., C) beat medical professor Ami Bera (D., n/a) in 2010, but the conventional wisdom is that this time Bera will be stronger.

House, ninth district (central): Incumbent Jerry McNerney (D., F) is sometimes a moderate on social issues, but not on gun rights. His opponent, Ricky Gill (R., AQ) was a strong advocate for charter schools when he served on the California State Board of Education.

House, tenth district (Central Valley): First-termer Jeff Denham (R., A) faces astronaut Jose Hernandez (D., n/a).

House, 24th district (Santa Barbara County): Lois Capps (D., F) has held the seat since 1998, and faces former lieutenant governor Abel Maldonado (R., C).

House, 26th district (Ventura County): For this open seat, state senator Tony Strickland (R., A-) is opposed by state representative Julia Brownley (D., F).

House, 36th district (Inland Empire): Mary Bono Mack (R., A−) won this seat when her husband, Sonny, died in a ski accident in 1998. Her formidable opponent is medical-school dean Raul Ruiz (D., n/a).

House, 41st district (Riverside): In this new seat, County Supervisor John Tavaglione (R., AQ) is pitted against high-school teacher Mark Takano (D., n/a).

House, 52nd district (San Diego County): Incumbent Brian Bilbray (R., A) is best known as an advocate of strict enforcement of laws against illegal immigration. He is opposed by city councilman (and former EPA economist) Scott Peters (D., n/a).


House, third district (the Western Slope plus Pueblo): This district is always competitive, which means that the winners almost always are solid on gun rights. First-termer Scott Tipton (R., A) has a tough race against state representative Sal Pace (D., A).

House, sixth district (the eastern Denver suburbs): Because of redistricting, this seat is now more balanced than it used to be. Incumbent Mike Coffman (R., A) has been a Second Amendment stalwart ever since he was first elected to the state legislature in 1988. He faces state representative Joe Miklosi (D., F).

House, seventh district (the western Denver suburbs): This seat, too, is more balanced because of redistricting. Incumbent Ed Perlmutter (D., F) is a tireless campaigner, but he faces a tough race from high-tech businessman Joe Coors Jr. (R., AQ).


Senate: Retiring Joe Lieberman was a moderate on some issues, but not on guns: He was a leader in the Democratic caucus in sponsoring gun-control bills. Linda McMahon (R., AQ) faces Representative Chris Murphy (D., F). Polls show McMahon within striking distance in this important opportunity for a pro-gun pickup in the Senate.

House, fifth district (northwest): The open seat created by Murphy’s Senate run features Andrew Roraback (R., C) versus Elizabeth Esty (D., n/a).


Governor: Incumbent governor Jack A. Markell (D., F) versus Jeffrey E. Cragg (R., AQ).

Senate: An elected official since 1974, and a U.S. senator since 2001, Tom Carper (D., F) is considered safe against businessman Kevin Wade (R., AQ).


Senate: Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson (D., F) is challenged by Representative Connie Mack IV (R., A), whose father was a U.S. senator, and whose great-great-grandfather was the owner and manager of the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team (now the Oakland Athletics). In the past week, Mack has cut Nelson’s lead in half, down to about 5 points.

House: In the House races, pro-gun Republicans face serious challenges from anti-gun Democrats.

Second district (central panhandle): First-term incumbent Steve Southerland (R., A) versus Al Lawson (D., C+).

Tenth district (central): First-termer Daniel Webster (R., A), who unseated Alan Grayson in 2010 and beat national right-to-carry leader Cliff Stearns in the 2012 primary, faces Orlando police chief Val B. Demings (D., F).

Sixteenth district (southwest): Incumbent Vern Buchanan (R., A) versus college professor Keith Fitzgerald (D., D).

Eighteenth district (central Atlantic coast): Tea-party hero Allen B. West (R., A) has a tough race against environmental businessman Patrick Murphy (D., n/a).

Twenty-second district (Palm Beach): An open-seat race features former Florida house majority leader Adam Hasner (R., A) against West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel (D., F).

Twenty-sixth district (southern tip): One-term incumbent David Rivera (R., A) is challenged by Joe Garcia (D., n/a).


House, twelfth district (east central): This seat is always hard-fought. John Barrow (D., A) was first elected in 2004. His opponent is school principal Lee Anderson (R., A).


Senate: Retiring senator Daniel Akaka (D.), who was appointed in 1990, was always a sure vote for anti-gun bills, but he did not take a leadership role on the issue.

Former governor Linda Lingle (R., B+) vies with Representative Mazie Hirono (D., F).


A constitutional right to hunt and fish is on the ballot.


House: Of the five strongly contested House races, two offer a clear choice on the gun issue.

Eighth district (far northwestern suburbs of Chicago): Joe Walsh (R., A) won a major upset with his 2010 defeat of a Democratic incumbent. He is challenged by progressive favorite Tammy Duckworth (D., F), a helicopter pilot who lost her legs during Iraq combat in 2004.

Tenth district (North Shore): Incumbent Bob Dold (R., D) generally supports Chicagoland prejudices against gun ownership. His opponent is businessman Brad Schneider (D., F).

Eleventh district (Chicago suburbs): Incumbent Judy Biggert (R., A) vs. former congressman Bill Foster (D., B+).

Twelfth district (southwest): In this open-seat race, businessman Jason Plummer (R., AQ) faces Bill Enyart (D., AQ). The Illinois State Rifle Association has endorsed Plummer.

Thirteenth district (Springfield): Also an open seat, with Rodney Davis (R., AQ), a former congressional staffer, against physician David Gill (D., B−).

Seventeenth district (northwestern farms, Rock Island): Obamacare baby Bobby Schilling (R., A) vs. former journalist Cheri Bustos (D., B+).


The news here is that in every contested race, there’s no dispute on the gun issue.

Governor: Incumbent Mike Pence (R., A) is challenged by former state house speaker John Gregg (D., A).

Senate: Way back in early 1974, the NRA and the Indiana Sportsman’s Council began working to unseat Democratic senator Vance Hartke, who was a leader of anti-gun forces in the Senate. The day after the 1976 election, United Press International credited gun-rights groups with having helped to elect Indianapolis mayor Richard Lugar as senator. But by 1996, when Lugar ran a short and unsuccessful campaign in the Republican presidential primaries, he attempted to distinguish himself as the candidate most supportive of gun control. In the 21st century, his voting record on gun issues was mediocre, but perhaps the worst problem was his role as chairman or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Unlike bipartisan majorities of the full Senate, Lugar adamantly refused to do anything, including merely signing joint letters, to criticize the United Nations gun-control program, or to urge the U.S. delegation to take a strong stance in defense of the Second Amendment at U.N. gun-control conferences. The NRA this year took the rare step of endorsing and making major expenditures in a Senate primary, and partly as a result, Lugar in May 2012 lost to Indiana secretary of state Richard Mourdock (R., A).

In the general election, Mourdock faces Democratic representative Joe Donnelly, whose three terms in the House earned him an A from the NRA. The race is close, but you can already score Indiana as a guaranteed +1 for gun rights.

House, second district (north-central): For this open seat, state representative Jackie Walorski (R., A) faces small businessman Brendan Mullen (D., AQ).

House, eighth district (southwest): First-termer Larry Bucshon (R., A) is challenged by state representative Dave Crooks (D, A).


House: All four of the state’s House districts have competitive races.

First district (northeast): Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley (D., F) vs. Ben Lange (R., AQ).

Second district (southeast): Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack (D., F) versus former John Deere executive John Archer (R., AQ).

Third district (southwest): Two incumbents were placed together because Iowa lost a seat after the census. Both of them have solid records: Leonard Boswell (D., A) vs. Tom Latham (R., A).

Fourth district (northwest): Incumbent Steve King (R., A+) faces former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D., n/a).


Voters will decide whether to ratify a constitutional amendment for the right to hunt and fish.

House, sixth district (Lexington): The NRA endorsement helped carry incumbent Ben Chandler (D., A) to a very narrow victory in 2010. This year he faces constitutional-law instructor Andy Barr (R., AQ).


An amendment, which I wrote about previously, to significantly strengthen the state constitutional right to arms is on the ballot.


Senate: Retiring moderate Republican senator Olympia Snowe compiled a medium record on the gun issue, although she was always better than all of the Democratic candidates she defeated. In the three-way race for this open seat, former governor Angus King (Indep., n/a) faces Maine secretary of state Charlie Summers (R., A) and state senator Cynthia Dill (D., F). While King had a large lead in earlier polls, the race appears to be tightening.


Senate: Incumbent senator Ben Cardin (D., F) looks unbeatable by former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino (R., AQ).

House, sixth district (panhandle): The district of incumbent Roscoe Bartlett (R., A) was very severely redistricted, leaving him with an almost impossible fight against lawyer John Delaney (D., n/a).


Senate: Incumbent senator Scott Brown (R., C) has a very tight race with Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren (D., F). Her hostile stance on gun rights is out of sync with her self-identification as an Indian.

House, sixth district (northeast): First elected in 1996, John Tierney (D., F) has a serious race with state-senate minority leader Richard Tisei (R., D).


Senate: Incumbent Democratic senator Debbie Stabenow’s F rating puts her out of touch with a state that has a strong hunting tradition, including among the many Democratic union members. In October, she has been widening her lead over former congressman Pete Hoekstra (R., A).

House, first district (Upper Peninsula): Long-serving representative Bart Stupak retired in 2010 after being duped into voting for Obamacare in exchange for what he later admitted to be non-functional restrictions on abortion funding. Tea-party favorite Dan Benishek (R., A+) won the seat, and is now challenged by state representative Gary McDowell (D., A).

House, third district (central): First-termer Justin Amash (R., B−) is touted as a strong advocate of conservative values, but he certainly is not on gun rights. Judge (and former state representative) Steve Pestka (D., A−) has the stronger record.

House, eleventh district (northern Detroit suburbs): In the wreckage of Thaddeus McCotter’s failure to file enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot, the open seat pits the libertarian-leaning Kerry Bentivolio (R., AQ) against physician Syed Taj (D., n/a).


Incumbent senator Amy Klobuchar (Democratic-Farmer-Labor, F) has a big lead over state representative Kurt Bills (R., A).

House, second district (Twin Cities suburbs): Incumbent John Kline (R., A) versus Mike Obermueller (DFL, C).

House, sixth district (northern Minneapolis suburbs): The presidential campaign of Michele Bachmann (R., A) probably didn’t make her more popular in her district. Jim Graves (DFL, n/a) is a hotel businessman.

House, eighth district (Iron Range): First-termer Chip Cravaack (R., A) is a former military and airline pilot who has led the fight against the Obama administration’s attempt to destroy the armed-pilots program. Opponent Rick Nolan (DFL, F) is a former congressman.


Senate: Incumbent senator Roger Wicker (R., A+) has been a leader, including on the subject of re-legalizing the transportation of firearms in Amtrak checked baggage. His opponent is Albert Gore Jr. (D., D+), a former county-party chair. No relation to the father-and-son senators from Tennessee, but not much better than them on the Second Amendment.


Governor: Governor Jay Nixon (D., B-) maintains a lead on small businessman David Spence (R., AQ).

Senate: Senator Claire McCaskill (D., F) would have been easily defeated if the Republicans had nominated a competent candidate. But the Democrats wisely spent heavily in the Republican primary to help Representative Todd Akin (R., A) win. The race remains in the mid–single digits, however, with new revelations about alleged influence-peddling in the Senate dining room by McCaskill’s husband.


This year, Montana is the only state which has two very close contests for major statewide offices.

Governor: The gubernatorial race is neck and neck between former congressman Rick Hill (R., A) and Attorney General Steve Bullock (D., B−).

Senator: Incumbent senator Jon Tester (D., A−) has a very close race with Representative Denny Rehberg (R., A+). Both have been leaders on firearms issues. Tester is the chief Senate sponsor of the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S.3525), which is slated to be the first item of business when the Senate returns for its lame-duck session. The House has already passed similar legislation. Among the many important reforms of the Act would be prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from banning lead ammunition, pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act. As I detailed in an article for America’s 1st Freedom, some environmental groups are suing EPA to impose such a ban. The “minus” attached to Tester’s name is almost certainly for his vote to confirm Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The former has already voted that District of Columbia v. Heller be overturned, so that ordinary Americans would have no Second Amendment rights; she did so by joining Justice Breyer’s dissent in McDonald v. Chicago, which urged that Heller be reversed. Rehberg, Montana’s at-large representative, has introduced legislation to overturn the Clinton State Department’s import ban on hundreds of thousands of M1 Carbines and M1 Garands. Pressure from Rehberg helped force the State Department to lift the ban on Garands.

House, at-large: With Rehberg not running for reelection, business executive Steve Daines (R., AQ) holds a moderate lead for the open seat over state-senate minority whip Kim Gillan (D., C). The Daines biography webpage includes a picture of Daines and his daughter with an antelope they have just taken.


Senate: Retiring Democrat Ben Nelson had a good record on guns. State senator Deb Fischer (R., A) has opened up a big lead on former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey (D., F). Like Al Gore, Kerrey was elected to the Senate by promising to be pro-gun, but when the anti-gun movement began getting stronger in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he switched sides. A constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to hunt and fish is on the state ballot.


Senate: The resignation of pro-gun Republican John Ensign led to a vacancy being filled by Representative Dean Heller (R., A). He has only a small lead against Representative Shelley Berkley (D., F).

House, third district (Las Vegas suburbs): Another first-termer who owes his job to Obamacare, Joe Heck (R., A) faces state-assembly speaker John Oceguera (D., A).

House, fourth district (north Las Vegas and northern suburbs): Danny Tarkanian (R., C+) is the son of the former basketball coach of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, who was not known for high ethics, even by the standards of college basketball. His opponent is Steven Horsford (D., C).

New Hampshire

Governor: The retirement of anti-gun governor David Lynch creates the possibility for reforms of New Hampshire’s self-defense laws, if lawyer Ovide Lamontagne (R., A−) defeats former state-senate majority leader Maggie Hassan (D., D).

House: Both of the Granite State’s House races are highly competitive.

First district (southeast): Incumbent Frank Guinta (R., A) is challenged by hardline leftist Carol Shea-Porter (D., F), whom he ousted in 2010.

Second district (rest of the state): Incumbent Charlie Bass (elected 1994, lost in 2006, won in 2010) (R., A) vies with attorney Ann McLane Kuster (D., n/a), whom he barely beat in 2010.

New Jersey

For the Senate, incumbent Bob Menendez (D., F) is expected to easily defeat Joe Kyrillos Jr. (R., C), who chaired Chris Christie’s gubernatorial campaign in 2009.

Third district (Atlantic City): Incumbent Jon Runyan (R., A), a product of the 2010 Republican wave, is challenged by Shelley Adler (D., n/a), widow of the incumbent whom Runyan defeated in 2010.

New Mexico

Senate: Retiring senator Jeff Bingaman, first elected in 1982, often but not always voted wrong on Second Amendment issues. Representative Martin Heinrich (D., B) appears be pulling away from Representative Heather Wilson (R., A). In any case, score New Mexico as another guaranteed improvement for gun rights.

New York

Senate: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D., F) won House races in upstate New York by campaigning as a Blue Dog, and earning an A rating on Second Amendment issues. Senator Charles Schumer pushed for her appointment in 2009 to fill the vacancy created by Senator Hillary Clinton’s move to the Department of State. Gillibrand has repaid him handsomely, by becoming a Schumer clone, and joining him as co-sponsor of extreme anti-gun legislation that even most other F-rated senators shy away from. Gillibrand’s opponent is the eminently qualified Wendy Long (R., AQ) — a former clerk for Clarence Thomas, a fellow at the Claremont Institute, and an aide to Senators William Armstrong of Colorado and Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire.

House: This year, New York has more competitive House races than any other state except California.

First district (Suffolk County): Incumbent Tim Bishop (D., F) has a rematch with Randy Altschuler (R., AQ), whom he defeated by fewer than 300 votes in 2010.

Eleventh district (Staten Island): Incumbent Michael Grimm (R., B+) is pitted against real-estate and film-industry mogul Mark Murphy (D., n/a).

Eighteenth district (southern Hudson Valley): First-termer Nan Hayworth (R., A) is attempting to hold on to her lead against Sean Patrick Maloney (D., n/a), a former staffer for Bill Clinton and for New York Democratic governors.

Nineteenth district (northern Hudson Valley): Incumbent Chris Gibson (R., A) faces corporate lawyer and former prosecutor Julian Schriebman (D., n/a).

Twenty-first district (far north): Incumbent Democrat Bill Owens (D., A+) won a special election in 2009, and has kept his pro–Second Amendment promises. He is the lead sponsor of H.R. 4269, Legal Transportation of Firearms; the bill would stop the atrocious practice of arresting travelers who transport unloaded firearms in checked baggage while using LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark Airports. He is challenged by investment executive Matt Doheny (R., AQ), who lost by only 2 percent in 2010.

Twenty-fourth district (Syracuse): A rematch between incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle (R., A), and Dan Maffei (D., F), whom she upset in 2012 by under 700 votes.

Twenty-fifth district (Rochester): Louise Slaughter (D., F), first elected in 1986, is ranking member of the Rules Committee, and would regain her chairmanship should Democrats retake the House. She uses her very powerful position aggressively against gun rights, and she is the most senior anti-gun congressperson who could lose this year. Her opponent is County Executive Maggie Brooks (R., A).

Twenty-seventh district (Buffalo): Kathy Hochul (D., A) won a special election in 2011, and is trying to hold on against County Executive Chris Collins (R., AQ).

North Carolina

Governor: Following the retirement of Democratic governor Beverly Perdue, who signed every pro–Second Amendment bill the legislature sent her, both candidates in the open-seat election have established pro-rights records: Pat McCrory (R., A) and Walter H. Dalton (D., A).

House: The three competitive House races are win-win for gun owners.

Seventh district (southernmost): Mike McIntyre (D., A) versus business consultant David Rouzer (R., A).

Eighth district (south-central): Larry Kissell (D., A) versus former congressional staffer Richard Hudson (R., A).

Eleventh district (western): Open seat created by Heath Shuler’s retirement. Development-company executive Mark Meadows (R., AQ) faces Hayden Rogers (D., A), who is Shuler’s former chief of staff. Rogers’s biography page on his website notes that he “is a member of the NRA, Ducks Unlimited, Tri-County Bass Club, Heartland Anglers, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Trout Unlimited.”

North Dakota

Governor: Governor Jack Dalrymple (R., A) is challenged by state senator Ryan Taylor (D., B−).

Senate: After 26 years in the Senate, Democrat Kent Conrad is retiring. Along with Byron Dorgan, Conrad gave North Dakota the worst anti-gun Senate voting record of any strongly pro-gun state. At-large representative Rick Berg (R., A) has a small lead over former attorney general Heidi Heitkamp (D., AQ). Whoever wins, it is an important gain for gun rights.

House, at-large: Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer (R., AQ) leads state representative Pam Gulleson (D., A).


Senate: Incumbent Sherrod Brown (D., F) is very far left, and perhaps too much so in a swing state. He always votes anti-gun, and holds a lead of about five points over state treasurer Josh Mandel (R., A).

House, sixth district (southeastern coal country): Incumbent Bill Johnson (R., A) vies with former congressman Charlie Wilson (D., A).

House, 16th district (Canton): Two incumbents were redistricted together, giving voters a clear choice between Jim Renacci (R., A) and Betty Sutton (D., F).


House, second district (eastern): The district is currently represented by Democrat Dan Boren, a member of the NRA board of directors. His retirement sets up a contest between small businessman Markwayne Mullin (R., AQ) and prosecutor Rob Wallace (D., AQ).


Senate: Senator Bob Casey (D., B+) won his seat in 2006 by promising to be staunchly pro-gun, but has somewhat underperformed. Opponent Tom Smith (R., A) is within striking distance.

House, eighth district (Philadelphia suburbs of Bucks County): Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (R., A) faces attorney and advocate for domestic-violence victims Kathy Boockvar (D., AQ).

House, twelfth district (southwest corner): Mark Critz (D., A+) versus attorney Keith Rothfus (R., AQ).

Rhode Island

Hard-working senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D., F) is an especially powerful anti-gun leader in the Senate, because he is among the minority of senators who take the time to learn the details of the issues they vote on. His opponent is Barry Hinckley (R., AQ), a direct descendant of Colonel James Barrett, who commanded the Concord militia on April 19, 1775, eventually forcing the British to begin a hasty retreat towards Boston.

House, first district (Providence): Former Providence mayor David Cicilline (D., F) moved to Congress in 2010, just before his financial shenanigans with the Providence budget began to come to light. Taxpayers will have the opportunity to get even with Cicilline by electing state policeman Brendan Doherty (R., B).


Senate: Incumbent Bob Corker (R., A) is not expected to face a serious challenge from insurance executive Mark Clayton (D., n/a).

House, fourth district (south and central): Another Obamacare baby, Scott Desjarlais (R., A) is challenged by Eric Stewart (D., A).


Senate: Retiring senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R.) was often a pro-gun leader in Congress, as when she took charge of rounding up senators to sign Stephen Halbrook’s Supreme Court amicus brief in the Heller case. Republican nominee Ted Cruz (R., A+) is the solicitor general of Texas, and in that capacity, convinced three-quarters of the state attorneys general to sign his amicus briefs in D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. I’ve known Ted for many years, and he has a long record of outstanding legal work on behalf of the Second Amendment. The combination of his very high intelligence and his strong commitment to the issue will make him the best senator possible from a Second Amendment standpoint. His opponent is former state representative Paul Sadler (D., C−).

House, 14th district (Galveston). A portion of retiring representative Ron Paul’s district will now be represented by this seat. State representative Randy Weber (R., A) vies with former congressman Nick Lampson (D., A).

House, 23rd district (panhandle): Incumbent Francisco “Quico” Canseco (R., A) versus state representative Pete Gallego (D., A-).


Governor: Governor Gary R. Herbert (R., A+) has a huge lead over Peter Cooke (D., n/a).

Senator: Orrin Hatch (R., A+) set a Utah record by winning a sixth term in 2006, and he appears poised to break that record, defeating state-senate minority leader Scott Howell (D., D).

House, fourth district (western Salt Lake City): As the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, Jim Matheson (D., A) is a Blue Dog who often votes against the Pelosi agenda. His opponent, Mia Love (R., AQ), would be the first black female Mormon Republican in Congress, and she has attracted plenty of national support. The latest poll shows her with a slight lead.


Governor: Incumbent governor Peter Shumlin (D., A) is challenged by Randy Brock (R., A).

Senate: Incumbent senator Bernie Sanders (Independent, Socialist, D−) faces John MacGovern (R., A), who is president of the Hanover Institute, which fights the Dartmouth College administration’s efforts to impose political correctness and to squeeze out alumni dissidents from Dartmouth’s governing board.


Senate: Retiring one-term senator Jim Webb was strongly pro-gun. Two former governors, George Allen (R., A; ousted from the Senate by Webb in 2006) and Tim Kaine (D., F) are fighting a very close contest.

House, second district (Virginia Beach): Incumbent Scott Rigell (R., A−) against investment adviser Paul Hirschbiel (D., D).


Governor: The enactment of pro-rights reform legislation in Washington has long been hampered by anti-gun governors. This year offers the possibility of change, with a tight race for an open seat between state attorney general Rob McKenna (R., B+) and Representative Jay Inslee (D., F).

Senate: Three-term incumbent senator Maria Cantwell (D., F) has a solid lead over state senator Michael Baumgartner (R., A).

House, first district (Seattle north suburbs): Inslee’s run for governor creates an opening in this district. When John Koster (R., A) was in the state legislature, he organized the Washington State Conservative Caucus. His opponent is high-tech executive Suzan DelBene (D., n/a).

West Virginia

Governor: Incumbent governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D., A+) versus Bill Maloney (R., AQ).

Senate: Senator Joe Manchin (D., A) is expected to easily defeat John Raese (R., AQ).

House, third district (south): Nick Rahall (D., A), who is the ranking majority member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is challenged by businessman Rick Snuffer (R., A).


Senate: Retiring senator Herb Kohl, ever since his election in 1988, was one of the Senate’s consistent anti-gun leaders. Former governor Tommy Thompson (R., A) and Representative Tammy Baldwin (D., F) are essentially tied in the polls. Wisconsin is one of the most important Senate races for gun owners this year.

House, seventh district (northwest): Representative Sean Duffy (R., A) vs. former state senator Pat Kreitlow (D., C+).

House, eighth district (northeast): First-termer Reid Ribble (R., A) versus businessman Jamie Wall (D., AQ).


Senate: Incumbent senator John Barrasso (R., A) should handily defeat Tim Chesnut (D., F).

— Dave Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute, in Denver, and an adjunct professor of constitutional law at Denver University, Sturm College of Law."

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