AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) endorsed Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) for re-election. The NRA-PVF, the political wing of the national gun rights organization, was enthusiastic in their support for Cornyn, noting that he had earned their “A+” rating, their “highest possible rating,” which they noted was used to designate legislators who not only have “an excellent voting record on critical NRA issues,” but also those “who have also made a vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment.”
In a press release, Chris W. Cox, the NRA-PVF Chairman, called Cornyn “a leader in the U.S. Senate on self-defense laws,” and praised him for his tenure as Texas Attorney General, being the lead sponsor for the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, opposition to what Cox calls the “Obama-Bloomberg gun control agenda,” including expansion of background checks that “would criminalize the private transfer of a firearm between life-long friends and many family members.”
Cornyn’s Democratic opponent, Dallas dentist David Alameel, has not served in elected office before, and therefore does not have a voting record to compare to Cornyn’s. Oddly, Alameel has been completely silent on the issue of gun rights, omitting the issue from his campaign website and avoiding making public statements on the issue. Websites that track political candidates’ positions on the issues like VoteSmart, On The Issues, and Vote TX similarly show no stance on gun control for Alameel, other than an occasional general statement without citation that he supports gun control, presumably in line with the platform of the Texas Democrats. Likewise, Google searches for “david alameel gun control” or “david alameel gun rights” yield no evidence of public comment on the issue.
Considering that Alameel is, at best, a long shot candidate, striking a more moderate or even conservative stance on gun rights might have helped him peel away some independent voters or Republicans dissatisfied with Cornyn. A Gallup poll in January 2014 showed that 40% of Americans were satisfied with the nation’s current gun laws ( and they did not want them changed), another 8% were dissatisfied but did not want the laws changed, and an additional 16% were dissatisfied and wanted the laws to be less strict. Polling in Texas shows Texans are even more opposed to additional gun control. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll in February 2013 — taken in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting nonetheless — showed that 52% of Texans believed that gun control laws should stay the same or be made less strict. Among Republicans, that figure is an overwhelming 80%.
Of course, the Democrats’ candidate for Governor, Wendy Davis, infamously attempted to rebrand herself as a gun rights supporter this election cycle, announcing her support for open carry and posing awkwardly with a gun that was owned by former Texas Governor Ann Richards. The move was met with skepticism from gun rights advocates, and outright anger from some liberal groups. Davis may have stumbled in her attempt to embrace gun rights, but as a political strategy, it is understandable, considering the polling on the issue.
With the advantage of incumbency, name recognition, and running as a Republican in a still-bright-red-state Texas, Cornyn is expected to easily cruise to reelection. This latest endorsement from the NRA will not shake anything up, but the Cornyn camp still clearly appreciated it, tweeting the news as “No surprise but still helpful”(the headline from the Dallas Morning News’ blog post on the topic) and adding a giant banner to the front page of Cornyn’s website.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.