Gun Rights and the 2010 House Elections

by David Kopel

The New Ledger. Oct. 22, 2010. More by Kopel on the 2010 election.

When the new Congress convenes in January, the House of Representatives will almost certainly have an even larger pro-Second Amendment majority than it does today. How much larger? If "N" is the net Republican gain, expect that the net pro-gun gain will be slightly smaller than ½N.

Below is a list of the U.S. House races discussed in a recent article by Jim Geraghty for National Review Online. He looked at 117 Democratic House districts where observers have at some point in the campaign cycle considered the seat to be in play. From these, I deleted a few races which Geraghty said were utterly out reach for Republicans, and I added a couple Republican seats that are up for grabs. In the district-by-district list below, I supply the candidates' grades from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund. There are 49 competitive House races where there is at least a two-grade difference (e.g. A vs. C) between the candidates. Those races are marked with an *.
In the races that do not have an *, the most common reason is that a pro-gun Republican is challenging a pro-gun Democrat, although there are a few races in which both candidates are anti-gun. Some Second Amendment voters may take into account smaller differences, such as B+ vs. A.

An "A+" means that a candidate has a demonstrated record of leadership. The "A" grade is given only to candidates who have earned the record while in an office. A candidate who provides good answers on the NRA questionnaire, but who has not previously served in a government position where there was an opportunity to make decisions on gun issues, will receive an "AQ." If there is a "?", that means the candidate refused to answer the questionnaire. Usually, but not always, this means that the candidate will be hostile to Second Amendment rights if elected.

Alabama-2: Southeast corner of the state. Repub. Martha Roby (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Bobby Bright (A).

Arizona-1: North and east, comprising about half the state. Repub. Paul Gosar (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Ann Kirkpatrick (A).

Ariz.-5: Scottsdale, and urban sprawl for metro Phoenix. Repub. David Schweikart (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Harry Mitchell (C-).

*Ariz.-7: Southwestern corner. Repub. Ruth McClung (B) vs. incumbent Dem. Raul Grijalva (F).

*Ariz.-8: Southeastern corner, including most of Tucson. Repub. Jesse Kelly (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Gabrielle Giffords (C).

Arizona is also one of several states which will have a ballot issue for voters to amend the state constitution to protect the right to hunt and fish, subject to legitimate game management regulations. Arkansas has a similar ballot issue.

Arkansas-1: Northeastern corner. Open seat, Repub. Rick Crawford (AQ) vs. Dem. Chad Causey (AQ). The seat was previously held by Democrat Marion Berry (A in 2008).

*Ark.-2: Little Rock. The retirement of Democrat Vic Snyder (F in 2008) offers a chance for a pro-Second Amendment gain. Repub. Tim Griffin (A) faces Joyce Elliot (D).

Ark.-4: Democratic incumbent Mike Ross (A+) vs. Repub. Beth Ann Rankin (AQ). Ross has been a leader in congressional efforts to liberate D.C. residents from the local government's attempt to comply with District of Columbia v. Heller in the most minimal and grudging way possible.

*California-11: Santa Clara to part of Stockton, roughly. Repub. David Harmer (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Jerry McNerney (D).

*Calif.-20: Part of Fresno to part of Bakersfield. Repub. Andy Vidak (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Jim Costa (C).

* Calif.-47: Portion of Orange County. Incumbent Dem. Loretta Sanchez (D) vs. Repub. Van Tran (A).

Calif.-51: Mexican border. Repub. Nick Popaditch (?) vs. incumbent Dem. and Veterans Affairs Chairman Bob Filner (F). His name always reminds me of 17th century English political philosopher Robert Filmer, the leading advocate for Divine Right of kings. John Locke's first Treatise on Government was a refutation of Filmer.

Colorado-3: Western slope, plus Pueblo. Repub. Scott Tipton (A) vs. incumbent Dem. John Salazar (A).

Colo.-4: Eastern plains, plus Fort Collins. Repub. Cory Gardner (A) vs. incumbent Democrat Betsy Markey (A).

*Colo.-7: Suburbs around Denver to the west, north, and east. Incumbent Dem. Ed Perlmutter (F) vs. Repub. Ryan Frazier (A).

Connecticut-4: Southwest corner, Stamford to Bridgeport. Incumbent Dem. Jim Himes (D-) vs. Repub. Dan DeBicella (C).

*Conn.-5: Northwest corner. Repub. Sam Caligiuri (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Chris Murphy (F). Election watching tip: There are three northeastern incumbent Democrats named Murphy in close races this year; only the one from N.Y. is good on gun rights.

*Delaware-at large: Open seat because Mike Castle, the leading anti-gun Republican in the House, ran for Senate. Repub. Glen Urquhart (AQ) vs. Dem. John Carney (F). Best chance for a Democratic pick-up this year.

*Florida-2: Eastern portion of the panhandle, Tallahassee. Repub. Steve Southerland (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Alan Boyd (D).

Fla.-8: Orlando and northward. Repub. Daniel Webster (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Alan Grayson (B).

*Fla.-22: Gold Coast. Repub. Allen West (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Ron Klein (F).

*Fla.-24: Daytona Beach and south. Repub. Sandy Adams (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Suzanne Kosmas (F).

Georgia-2: Southwest corner, Albany. Incumbent Dem. Sanford Bishop (A+) vs. Repub. Mike Keown (A).

Ga.-8: South-central, Macon. Incumbent Dem. Jim Marshall (A) vs. Repub. Austin Scott (A-).

Ga.-12: Mid-east, Savannah. Incumbent Dem. John Barrow (A) vs. Repub. Ray McInney (AQ).

*Hawaii 1: Honolulu. Repub. incumbent Charles Djou (A) vs. Dem. Colleen Hanabusa (F).

Idaho-1: Panhandle and almost everything directly south of it, except Boise. Incumbent Dem. Walt Minnick (B+) vs. Repub. Raul Labrador (A).

Illinois-8: Northeast border with Wisconsin. Incumbent Dem. Melissa Bean (D) vs. Repub. Joe Walsh (?).

Ill.-9: Evanston, Chicago lakefront. Incumbent Dem. Jan Schakowsky (F) vs. Repub. Joel Pollack (?).

Ill.-10: North Shore. Dem. Dan Seals (D) vs. Repub. Bob Dold (?). Repub. Mark Kirk (F in 2008) gave up the seat to run for Senate.

Ill.-11: Joliet and south. Repub. Adam Kinzinger (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Debbie Halvorson (A).

*Ill.-14: Part of the rural north. Repub. Randy Hultgren (A-) vs. incumbent Dem. Bill Foster (D).

*Ill.-17: Central portion of the border with the Mississippi River. Repub. Bobby Schilling (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Phil Hare (F).

Indiana-2: North-central, South Bend. Incumbent Dem. Joe Donnelly (A) vs. Repub. Jackie Walorski (A).

Ind.-8: The southern 2/3 of the western border, Evansville. Open seat vacated by Brad Ellsworth (A in 2010 Senate race). Repub. Larry Bucshon (AQ) vs. Dem. Trent Van Haaften (A).

Ind.-9: Southeast, Bloomington. Repub. Todd Young (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Baron Hill (A).

*Iowa-1: DuBuque, Davenport, Waterloo. Incumbent Dem. Bruce Braley (D) vs. Repub. Ben Lange (AQ).

*Ia.-2: Southeast. Repub. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Dave Loebsack (F). A rematch of the 2008 election.

Ia.-3: Des Moines, counties to the east, New Sharon, Taintor. Incumbent Dem. Leonard Boswell (A) vs. Repub. Brad Zaun (A).

*Kansas-3: K.C. and suburbs. Open seat due to retirement of Dennis Moore (F in 2008). His wife, Stephanie Moore (?) faces Repub. Kevin Yoder (A).

Ballot issue 1 in Kansas will provide voters with an opportunity to restore the right to keep and bear arms to the Kansas state constitution. The right was included in the original constitution, but later nullified by the Kansas Supreme Court in the 1905 case City of Salina v. Blakesly. Dicta from that case was the origin of the 20th-century notion that the Second Amendment is exclusively a state's right, not an individual right.

*Kentucky-3: Louisville. Dem. incumbent John Yarmuth (F) vs. Repub. Todd Lally (AQ).

Ky.-6: Lexington area. Repub. Andy Barr (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Ben Chandler (A).

*Louisiana 2: New Orleans. Joseph Cao (C) v. Cedric Richmond (F).

La.-3: Southeast, Cajun country. Open-seat, because Charlie Melancon is the Democratic nominee for Senate (with an A rating). Repub. Jeff Landry (AQ) vs. Dem. Ravi Sangisetty (AQ).

*Maine-1: Portland, Augusta. Repub. Dean Scontras (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Chellie Pingree (F). Pingree formerly served as President of Common Cause, whose agenda has included, among other things, suppressing the political speech of the National Rifle Association.

Me.-2: Northern 4/5 of state. Repub. Jason Levesque (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Michael Michaud (A).

Maryland-1: Eastern shore. Repub. Andy Harris (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Frank Kratovil (A). A 2008 rematch.

*Massachusetts-4: Fall River, New Bedford, Brookline. Repub. Sean Bielat (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Barney Frank (F).

*Mass.-10: Cape Cod. Repub. Jeff Perry (A) vs. Dem. Bill Keating (?). Incumbent Dem. William Delahunt (F in 2008) is retiring.

Michigan-1: Upper peninsula and upper thumb. Retiring Bart Stupak was usually good, but not always. Repub. Dan Benishek (AQ) vs. Dem. Gary McDowell (A).

*Mich.-5: Flint. Incumbent Dem. Dale Kildee (F) vs. Repub. John Kupiec (AQ).

Mich.-7: South-central. Repub. Tim Walburg (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Mark Schauer (B-). Another 2008 encore contest.

*Mich.-9: Pontiac area. Repub. Rocky Raczkowski (A) vs. Dem. incumbent Gary Peters (D).

Mich.-15: Ann Arbor to Ohio. Repub. Rob Steele (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent John Dingell (A+), 2d ranking on Energy & Commerce Committee. With the lone exception of a vote to pass the 1994 Clinton crime bill, Dingell has been a stalwart leader for Second Amendment issues during his long tenure in the House.

Minnesota-1: Southern border, Rochester. Incumbent Dem. Tim Walz (A) vs. Repub. Randy Demmer (A).

Minn.-8: Northeast, Duluth. Repub. Chip Cravaack (AQ) vs. incumbent Jim Oberstar (B+). While the district is heavily Democratic, it's a farming and mining region for which Oberstar's record on the issue is weak, in context.

Mississippi-1: North, Oxford. Incumbent Dem. Travis Childers (A+) vs. Repub. Alan Nunnellee (A). Like Mike Ross of Arksansas, Childers has led the fight against the D.C. City Council's attempt to "comply" with Heller the same way that southern school boards in the 1950s tried to avoid fully obeying Brown v. Board of Education.

Miss.-4: Southeast. Repub. Steven Palazzo (A) vs. Dem. incumbent Gene Taylor (A). Taylor's good record is marred only by his efforts to defend the 1993 atrocities at Waco and their subsequent cover-up.

*Missouri-3: South of St. Louis. Repub. Ed Martin (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Russ Carnahan (F). The Carnahan family has been the preeminent opponent of Second Amendment rights in Missouri for the last dozen years.

Mo.-4: West-central, Jefferson City. Incumbent Democrat Ike Skelton (A) is Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. He is opposed by Vicky Jo Hartzler (A). Even as ranking minority of Armed Services, Skelton can accomplish far more for the Second Amendment than could a freshman in a Republican majority.

Nevada-3: Tip of the southern triangle. Repub. Joe Heck (A) vs. Dina Titus (B-).

*New Hampshire-1: East, Manchester. Repub. Frank Guinta (A) vs. Dem. incumbent Carol Shea-Porter (F).

*N.H.-2: North and West, Concord. Open seat because Paul Hodes (A-) is the Dem. Senate nominee. Repub. Charlie Bass (A) vs. Dem. Ann Kuster (D).

*New Jersey-3: Burlington and Ocean counties. Dem. incumbent John Adler (D) vs. Jon Runyan (AQ).

*N.J.-6: New Brunswick area. Repub. Anna Little (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Frank Pallone (F).

*N.J.-12: Central area. Incumbent Dem. Rush Holt (F) vs. Repub. Scott Sipprelle (A-). Holt is a leading gun control advocate; for example, he sponsored a bill, which attracted no co-sponsors, to impose national handgun licensing and registration.

Any right to arms victories in New Jersey races are nationally significant, in that they help bring the Garden State back into the American mainstream, and out of the orbit of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

New Mexico-1: Albuquerque. Repub. Jon Barela (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Martin Heinrich (A).

N.M.-2: South. Repub. Steve Pearce (A) vs. Dem. incumbent Harry Teague (A).

*New York-1: Easter Suffolk County. Incumbent Dem. Tim Bishop (F) vs. Repub. Randy Altschuler (AQ).

*N.Y.-13: Staten Island. Incumbent Dem. Mike McMahon (F) vs. Repub. Mike Grimm (AQ).

*N.Y.-19: Lower Hudson Valley. Repub. Nan Hayworth (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. John Hall (F).

N.Y.-20: Central part of the Hudson River border. Repub. Chris Gibson (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Scott Murphy (A).

*N.Y.-22: Catskills, Binghamton. Incumbent Dem. Maurice Hinchey (C) vs. Repub. George Phillips (AQ). According to the 2010 Almanac of American Politics.

N.Y.-23: Northern border, in eastern half of the state. Repub. Matt Doheny (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Bill Owens (A).

*N.Y.-25: Syracuse and west. Repub. Ann Marie Buerkle (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Dan Maffei (F).

N.Y.-29: Southern half of the west. Rep. Tom Reed (AQ) vs. Dem. Matt Zeller (AQ). Tickling enthusiast Eric Massa (C in 2008) resigned during his term.

*North Carolina-2: Gerrymander centered on Johnston County. Dem. incumbent Bob Etheridge (D) vs. Repub. Renee Ellmers (AQ).

N.C.-7: Southernmost counties. Repub. Ilario Pantano (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Mike McIntyre (A).

N.C.-8: From part of Fayette to part of Charlottesville. Incumbent Dem. Larry Kissell (A) vs. Repub. Harold Johnson (AQ).

N.C.-11: Western tip. Incumbent Dem. Heath Shuler (A) vs. Repub. Jeff Miller (AQ).

North Dakota-at large: Repub. Rick Berg (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Earl Pomeroy (A).

*Ohio-1: Cincinnati. Repub. Steve Chabot (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Steve Driehaus (D).

Oh.-6: Eastern border, but not the northernmost portion. Repub. Bill Johnson (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Charlie Wilson (A).

*Oh.-10: Parts of Cleveland and suburbs. Repub. Peter Corrigan (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Dennis Kucinich, who in 2008 advocated handgun prohibition.

*Oh.-13: Cuyahoga County. Repub. Tom Ganley (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Betty Sutton (F).

*Oh-15: Most of Columbus, plus westward. Repub. Steve Stivers (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Mary Jo Kilroy (F).

Oh.-16: Canton and Stark Counties. Repub. Jim Renacci (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. John Boccieri (A).

Oh.-18: Rural east-central. Incumbent Dem. Zach Space (A+) vs. Repub. Bob Gibbs (A).

*Oregon-1: Northwestern tip. Repub. Rob Cornilles (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. David Wu (F).

Ore.-4: Southwest, Eugene. Repub. Art Robinson (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Peter DeFazio (B).

Ore.-5: Centered on Salem. Repub. Scott Bruun (A) vs. Dem. incumbent Kurt Schrader (A).

Pennsylvania-3: Northwest, Erie. Repub. Mike Kelly (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper (C).

Penn.-4: Central west. Incumbent Dem. Jason Altmire (A) vs. Repub. Keith Rofkus (AQ).

*Penn. -7: Delaware County. Repub. Pat Meehan (AQ) vs. Bryan Lentz (F). The seat formerly belong to Joe Sestak (F in 2010 Senate race).

*Penn.-8: Bucks County. Repub. Mike Fitzpatrick (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Patrick Murphy (D+).

Penn.-10: Northeast. Repub. Tom Marino (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Chris Carney (A).

Penn.-11: Scranton and southward. Repub. Lou Barletta (AQ) vs. incumbent Dem. Paul Kanjorski .

*Penn.-12: Southwest. Dem. incumbent Mark Critz (A) vs. Repub. Tim Burns (AQ).

*South Carolina-5: Eastern 2/3 of the northern border. House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D) vs. Repub. Mick Mulvaney (A). Spratt's record on guns is far out of step with his district, and his role as a major committee chair makes him particularly harmful to the Second Amendment.

Recognition of constitutional right to hunt and fish will be on the statewide ballot.

South Dakota-at large: Repub. Kristi Noem (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (A).

Tennessee-4: Central region. Incumbent Dem. Lincoln Davis (A) vs. Repub. Scott DesJarlais (AQ). Davis grew up on the farm that once belonged to the greatest rifleman of the World War I, Sgt. Alvin York.

*Tenn.-6: North-central. Murfreesboro. Repub. Diane Black (A) vs. Dem. Brett Carter (?). Bart Gordon (A in 2008) is retiring.

Tenn-8: Northwest. Repub. Stephen Fincher (AQ) vs. Dem. Roy Herron (A). Incumbent John Tanner (A in 2008) is another retiree.

Tennessee is another state with a proposed right to hunt and fish amendment.

Texas-17: Waco. Repub. Bill Flores (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Chet Edwards (A). Edwards provided the crucial vote for the Clinton ban on so-called "assault weapons," and also supported Clinton's bill to severely restrict gun shows, but he has gotten better in the 21st century.

Tex.-23: Panhandle. Incumbent Dem. Ciro Rodriguez (A-) vs. Repub. Francisco Canseco (AQ).

Tex.-27: Brownsville, Corpus Christi. Repub. Blake Farenthold (A-) vs. Dem. incumbent Solomon Ortiz (A), who ranks 3d on the Armed Services Committee.

Utah-2: East. Dem. incumbent Jim Matheson (A) vs. Repub. Morgan Philpot (A).

Virginia-2: Virginia Beach. Repub. Scott Rigell (AQ) vs. incumbent Democrat Glenn Nye (A).

Vir.-5: Charlottesville to the N.C. border. Repub. Robert Hurt (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Tom Perriello (A).

Vir.-9: Western tip. Incumbent Dem. Rick Boucher (A+) vs. Repub. Morgan Griffith (A).

*Vir.-11: Fairfax. Repub. Keith Fimian (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Gerry Connolly (F).

Washington-2: Bellingham to Everett. Repub. John Koster (A) vs. incumbent Dem. Rick Larsen (B-). Larsen first won the seat by beating Koster in 2000.

There is also a particularly important Supreme Court election in Washington. Incumbent Justice Richard B. Sanders (A+) is a sterling defender of civil liberty. His opponent is Charlie Wiggins (?).

*Wash.-3: Southwest. Repub. Jaime Herrera (A) vs. Dem. Denny Heck (?). Brian Baird (B in 2008) did not choose to seek reelection.

Wash.-9: South of Seattle. Repub. Dick Muri (A) vs. Dem. incumbent Adam Smith (C).

West Virginia-1: North, Morgantown. Dem. Mike Oliverio (A) vs. Repub. David McKinley (A). Alan Mollohan (A+ in 2008) was defeated in the primary because of ethics problems.

W.V.-3: South. Repub. Spike Maynard (A) vs. Dem. incumbent Nick Rahall (A), who is Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee.

Wisconsin-7: Northwest, Wassau. Repub. Sean Duffy (AQ) vs. Dem. Julie Lassa (A-). The retirement of Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (A- in 2008) is a gain for taxpayers, but a significant loss for the Second Amendment. Behind the scenes in committee negotiations, Obey fought and won many battles on behalf of the Second Amendment.

Wisc.-8: Northeast, Green Bay. Repub. Reid Ribble (AQ) vs. Dem. incumbent Steve Kagen (A).

In most races where there is an A-rated incumbent, that incumbent with have the NRA endorsement, since NRA endorsement policy favors incumbents who have proven themselves through their actions. A study by Christopher B. Kenny, Michael McBurnett & David J. Bordua found that, "in general, a NRA endorsement can raise a candidate's share of the vote by approximately 3% per 10,000 NRA members in the district." But the NRA endorsement is most potent for challengers, who can receive a 5% boost per 10,000 NRA members in the district.

Because there are 435 U.S. House districts, and about 4 million NRA members, the average district would have about 9,200 NRA members. Obviously NRA members are not evenly distributed. Chicago districts would have many fewer members, whereas rural Illinois districts would have many more.

On election night, some of the incumbent Democrats discussed above will have the pleasure of finding that they were not washed away by the tsunami. For the A-rated winners who survived by only a few points, the NRA will undoubtedly be near the top of their "thank you" lists. Republican challengers who narrowly defeated anti-gun Democrats will also have the NRA to thank.

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