Second Thoughts
How will the upcoming elections affect gun rights?

By Dave Kopel

Things look a lot better for the Second Amendment than they do for the Republican party. A race-by-race analysis of the Senate suggests that, while party control of the Senate could change, the Senate is very likely to retain a pro-gun working majority. 

A 50-seat tsunami in the House would result in a gain of over two dozen seats for anti-gun forces; the more realistic scenario is a total Democratic gain of 30 of less, with about half of the freshman Democrats being anti-gun. This would leave the House with a fairly comfortable pro-Second Amendment majority.

In the governors’ mansions, gun owners could even come out ahead on this election, if pro-Second Amendment candidates hold on in some close races; gun owners already have one big gain sewed up, since Ohio’s governorship will be changing from an anti-gun Republican Taft to a pro-gun Democrat Strickland.

In Congress, changes in party control would have a significant effect on gun rights. Senate-Majority-Leader-in-waiting Harry Reid has a good record on gun issues, and played a major role in the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act. Yet although a Democratic Senate would contain more pro-gun rights Democrats than the chamber has seen for over 15 years, Reid would still be beholden to a caucus in which anti-gun senators would be a very large majority, and in which all presidential contenders would have a poor (Feingold, Bayh) to terrible (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama) record on gun issues.

Significantly, while a Democratic Senate might have a pro-gun floor majority, it would not invoke the nuclear option against a Supreme Court nomination filibuster. This wouldn’t matter much anyway if President Bush were to nominate Alberto Gonzales, whom Second Amendment activists would have little reason to support, but there is reason to hope that the president might choose a better nominee.  

Although the floor of the U.S. House will still have a pro-gun majority, a Speaker Pelosi, with her perfect anti-gun voting record, would almost certainly bring forward anti-gun bills when she decided the time was ripe. John Conyers, as chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Louise Slaughter, as chair of the Rules Committee, would ensure that no pro-Second Amendment legislation was ever brought to the floor, except in the very unlikely event that a majority of the entire House signed a discharge petition. 

President Bush has been good about signing pro-gun legislation which has been put on his desk, but this does not mean that he would exert meaningful pressure, pro or con, on gun legislation, or that he would veto any gun control measure which could pass both houses.

So here’s a rundown on the key races affecting Second Amendment rights, and where the candidates stand on the issue.


potential losses: Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada.
likely loss: Colorado.
certain loss: New York (bad to much worse).
potential gains: Oregon, Wisconsin.
certain gains: Iowa, Ohio.


potential losses: Missouri, Tennessee (maybe).
potential gains: Maryland.


potential losses: AZ 1, 5, 8; CA 11; CO 4, 5, 7; CT 2; FL 13; IA 1; KY 1; MN 2, 6; NH 2; NM 1; NY 20, 29; OH 1, 2, 12, 15; PA 7, 8, 9, 10; WA 5, 8; WI 8; WY.
potential gains: IL 6, 8; IN 7; NY 24; TX 17.
certain gain: VT.

The above list includes open seats, taking into account whether the newcomer would be better or worse than the retiring office-holder.

An asterisk means that the candidate is an incumbent.

In all races, the Republican is listed first, and the Democrat second.  Any Independent candidate will be noted as such.

For federal races, there are two grades reported: first the NRA grade, then the grade from Gun Owners of America (GOA). The latter group grades much more severely. A “?” or “NR” means that the candidate refused to answer the group’s questionnaire. Many candidates answered the NRA questionnaire but not the GOA one, and many of these candidates have good records on the gun issue. A refusal to answer both questionnaires should almost always be considered equivalent to an “F”.

The past congressional session has been an ideal one for legislators to earn good grades. The major votes have been on issues where there is strong public support for the pro-gun side — such as banning lawsuits against law-abiding gun manufacturers or gun stores, and prohibiting gun confiscation in emergencies. Accordingly, any incumbent congressman with a bad grade this year can conclusively be presumed to be hopelessly anti-Second Amendment.

Most of the polling data discussed below comes from, and was current as of Tuesday afternoon, October 31.

Governor: *Bob Riley (A+) vs. Lucy Baxley (A). 

Speaking at the 2006 meeting of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association in early October, shortly after the Amish schoolhouse murders, Governor Riley said, “You have nothing to apologize for as hunters and shooters. The gun didn’t commit those horrific murders in Pennsylvania. Hunters didn’t commit those murders, and it’s wrong to try and say otherwise.” He added that Alabama would not forsake its “ancestral traditions” of hunting, fishing, and the outdoors, in pursuit of development.

Governor: Sarah H. Palin (A) vs. Tony Knowles (C-).

Palin handily defeated incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski in the primary, and has a one point lead over Knowles, a former Governor whose poor record on gun rights is far out of step with Alaska, a state where the NRA is viewed favorably by over 90 percent of the population.

Senate: *Jon Kyl (A/C) vs. Jim Pederson (A/NR).

Kyl appears to be out of danger, but there are three critical House races:

District 1, northern Arizona: *Rick Renzi (A/A+) vs. Ellen Simon (?/NR). Renzi trailed slightly in a poll from early October, and then developed a lead last week.

District 5, Tempe & Scottsdale: *J.D. Hayworth (A/A) vs. Harry Mitchell (F/F). Hayworth has a very slender lead.

District 8, Tucson: Randy Graf (A/A) vs. Gabrielle Giffords (F/F). In this open seat, Graf won the primary against a Republican backed by the establishment, primarily because of Graf’s very strong stance against illegal immigration. Perversely, the national Republican party is refusing to help Graf, but his strong volunteer base has helped him close the gap to 8 points, according to late September/early October poll.

Governor: Asa Hutchinson (A+) vs. Mike Beebe (A-). Beebe appears to have a solid lead over the former Drug Czar.

Governor: *Arnold Schwarzenegger (C+) vs. Phil Angelides (F). Schwarzenegger signed the ban on .50 caliber rifles, but he has also vetoed several very bad bills. His continued presence in Sacramento is essential to preventing disaster in California, including a handgun ban.

Lt. Governor: Tom McClintock (A) vs. John Garamendi (F). An experienced pro-rights stalwart with a strong legislative record, McClintock could position himself for a gubernatorial race with a win this year.

Senator: Dick Mountjoy (A/A) vs. *Dianne Feinstein (F/F-). The 1994 ban on so-called “assault weapons” never would have passed without Feinstein’s indefatigable work. Currently, she is obstructing a House-passed bill to reform the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.

In the U.S. House, two incumbent Republicans face tough races:

District 4, northeast Calif.: *John Doolittle (A/A) vs. Charles Brown (A/NR).

District 11, Stockton.: *Richard Pombo (A/A) vs. Jerry McNerney (F/NR). McNerney has a slight lead over Pombo, who has an excellent record as a property rights advocate and as a critic of abusive enforcement of environmental laws.

Governor: Bob Beauprez (A) vs. Bill Ritter (F). Ritter, the former Denver District Attorney, is expected to win this one comfortably. In years of testimony to the Colorado legislature, he has built a solid record as a dedicated anti-gun extremist. He vigorously defended a Denver ordinance (which was reformed by the legislature) that allowed the police to confiscate any car containing a firearm (including an unloaded rifle owned by someone passing through Denver, on the way to a hunting trip), putting the burden on the owner of the car and the gun to prove his innocence in court later.

District 4, eastern Colorado: *Marilyn Musgrave (A/A) vs. Angie Paccione (F/F). Musgrave is the founder of the Second Amendment Caucus in the U.S. House. Paccione’s voting record in the Colorado House was better than her current grades would suggest.

District 5, Colorado Springs: Doug Lamborn (A/A) vs. Jay Fawcett (D/NR). Retiring Rep. Joel Hefley had a perfect voting record on guns, but exerted little effort o on the issue. In the Colorado Senate, Lamborn was a pro-gun leader.

District 7, Denver suburbs: Rick O’Donnell (A/NR) vs. Ed Perlmutter (F/NR). In the state senate, Perlmutter occasionally cast a tactical pro-gun vote, but his primary campaign against Peggy Lamm demagogued the gun issue, earning him an endorsement from the Brady Campaign. 

The Constitution State has four races of national interest, but only one involving a viable candidate who defends the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Governor: *Jodi Rell (F) vs. John Destafano (F).

Senate: Alan Schlesinger (A/C) vs. (I) *Joe Lieberman (F/F) vs. Ned Lamont (?/NR). Schlesinger has no chance of winning, and a Lamont victory would be a catastrophe for the war on terror. Gun owners might consider a protest vote for Schlesinger only if it appears that Lieberman has an insurmountable lead.

District 2, eastern Conn.: *Rob Simmons (A/B-) vs. Joe Courtney (F/NR).

District 4, Stamford: *Chris Shays (F/F-) vs. Diane Farrell (?/F).

District 5, northwest Conn.: *Nancy Johnson (D+/F-) vs. Chris Murphy (D/NR).

Senate: Jan Ting (A/NR) vs. *Tom Carper (F/F). Pro-gun activists will focus on state legislative races in order to improve the prospects of enacting “Shall Issue” licensing for handgun carry — a reform which the gun-prohibition lobby was able to stall in the last legislative session until time ran out.

Governor: Charlie Crist (A+) vs. Jim Davis (F). Crist’s lead appears to be small to moderate.

Senate: Katherine Harris (A/A-) vs. *Bill Nelson (F/F).

District 13, Sarasota: Vern Buchanan (A/A) vs. Christine Jennings (?/NR). Buchanan trails, but is within striking distance.

District 16, Atlantic coast: Joe Negron (A/A) vs. Tim Mahoney (A/NR).

District 22. Palm Beach: *Clay Shaw (C+/B-) vs. Ron Klein (F/NR). Small lead for Shaw.

The NRA is backing constitutional Amendment 3, which would require a vote of at least 60 percent for future state constitutional amendments. 

Georgia is the only state with a pair of potential Republican pick-ups in the House, but all four candidates of both parties are pro-gun.

Governor: *Sonny Perdue (A+) vs. Mark Taylor (A). Perdue is safely ahead.

District 8, Macon: Mac Collins (A/A) vs. *Jim Marshall (A/A).  One of the few possible Republican pick-ups this year.

District 12, Augusta: Max Burns (A/A) vs. *John Barrow (A/A-).

Proposed constitutional Amendment 2 mandates that Georgia’s “tradition of hunting and fishing, and the taking of fish and wildlife, will be preserved for the people and shall be managed by law and regulation for the common good.” 

Governor: *Linda Lingle (B) vs. Randy Iwase (?).

Governor: (R) Butch Otter (A) vs. (D) Jerry M. Brady (?). Otter is perhaps the most effective libertarian-leaning politician in the United States. Otter leads by only one percent.

District 1, western Idaho: (R) Bill Sali (A/A) vs. (D) Larry Grant (A/NR). 

Governor: Judy Baar Topinka (A) vs. *Rod Blagojevish (F). Blagojevich is as bad as it gets. He spent much of his term intensely lobbying the legislature for more repressive gun laws in a state that already has some of the nation’s harshest laws. Thus far, he has been thwarted by downstate Democrats.

District 6, southwest Chicago suburbs: Peter Roskama (A/A) vs. Tammy Duckworth (F/NR). This race appears to be tied. 

District 8, northwest Chicago suburbs: David McSweeney (A/NR) vs. *Melissa Bean (F/D-). Some polls show Bean far ahead, while others put McSweeney within the margin of error.

District 10, north Chicago suburbs: *Mark Kirk (F/F-) vs. Daniel Seals (?/NR).

Four competitive races here, and all but one of the eight candidates are pro-gun.

District 2, South Bend: *Chris Chocola (A/A-) vs. Joseph Donnelly (A/NR). A rematch of the 2004 race.

District 7, Indianapolis: Eric Dickerson (A-/NR) vs. *Julia Carson (F/F-). This could be a surprise Republican win; one recent poll puts Carson ahead, the other Dickerson, both within the margin of error.  

District 8, southwest Indiana: *John Hostettler (A/A+) vs. Brad Ellsworth (A/A). Hostettler trails by 7 percent in the latest poll; he has been a very active pro-gun leader in Congress.

District 9, southeast Indiana: *Mike Sodrel (A/A-) vs. Baron Hill (A-/D-). Hill has lost the previous two match-ups; he maintains a small lead, which has shrunk.

Governor: Jim Nussle (A+) vs. Chet Culver (A). Culver has a small lead and is one of many midwestern Democrats who are running strong races in part because they are standing behind the traditional Second Amendment values of the party of Jefferson and Madison.

District 1, Dubuque: Mike Whalen (A/A) vs. Bruce Braley (?/NR). This district has a solid Democratic majority and is supposed to be an easy pick-up for the Dems. Most polls agree, although a Zogby poll shows Whalen to be ahead.

District 3, Des Moines: Jeff Lamberti (A/A) vs. *Leonard Boswell (A/C-).

Governor: Jim Barnett (A-) vs. *Kathleen Sebelius (C). Sebelius signed a good bill pre-empting some local firearms laws, in order to help travelers. But she vetoed a “shall issue” concealed-carry law, and fought hard, but unsuccessfully, against a veto over-ride in the legislature.

Attorney General: *Phil Kline (A+) vs. Paul Morrison (C+). The latest poll shows Morrison with a big lead over the outspoken and very controversial incumbent.

District 3, Louisville: *Anne Northrup (A/A-) vs. John Yarmuth (F/NR). Northrup always has close races; in the past, her NRA grades were no better than what Kerry and Bush earned at Yale. But her record improved considerably in the last congress.

District 4, Northern Kentucky: *Geoff Davis (A/A) vs. Ken Lucas (A/B). Lucas held this seat until 2002, when he retired to honor his term limits pledge.

Governor: Chandler Woodcock (A) vs. *John Baldacci (C). Woodcock will need a big surge to win.

Senate: *Olympia Snowe (C+/F) vs. Jean Haybright (?/F). Snowe will win in a landslide.

Governor: *Robert L. Ehrlich (B) vs. Martin O'Malley (F). O’Malley’s lead polls as low as 3 points, leaving Ehrlich within striking distance. After upsetting Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Ehrlich underperformed at governor, and was particularly disappointing when it came to due process reforms for gun owners, which he could have implemented without need for legislative approval.

Senate: Michael Steele (B/NR) vs. Ben Cardin (F/F-). The latest poll shows Steele in a tie. A win here would be a great pick-up for the Second Amendment.

Governor: Kerry Healey (A-) vs. Deval Patrick (D). Patrick, an apparatchik from the Clinton/Reno Department of Justice, is far out in front.

Senate: Kenneth Chase (D/NR) vs. *Ted Kennedy (F/F-). The conscience of the Senate is headed for another term.

District 9, Boston: Jack Robinson (B) vs. *Stephen Lynch (D). Nobody thinks that Robinson can win this one, but he would be a good congressman, and every vote for him has the beneficial effect of further annoying the Massachusetts media, which have been very hostile to him.

Governor: Dick Devos (A) vs. *Jennifer Granholm (B-). When Granholm was attorney general, she and I were among the speakers at a symposium at Wayne State law school. Her anti-gun attitude was very apparent. But as governor, Granholm has recognized political reality, and signed every pro-Second Amendment bill that has been put on her desk. Michigan’s economy is in trouble, but she has maintained a 5-10 point lead.

Senate: Mike Bouchard (A) vs. *Debbie Stabenow (F). Bouchard will need a major surge to close the gap with Stabenow in these last days.

In 2005, the Michigan legislature and Governor Granholm re-legalized the hunting of mourning doves. These doves are America’s most abundant game bird, and are an especially popular quarry for new or young hunters. Using Michigan’s initiative process, national hunting prohibition groups gathered enough signatures to delay the law and require voter approval. Question 3 on the Michigan ballot will ask voters whether to re-legalize the mourning dove season. 

Governor: *Tim Pawlenty (A) vs. Mike Hatch (B-). As governor, Pawlenty signed one of the best concealed-carry laws in the nation, and then signed it again after the first law was stricken by the courts for violation of the single-subject rule. He has closed to within one percent in the latest poll.

Senate:  Mark Kennedy (A/A) vs. Amy Klobuchar (F/NR). Klobuchar maintains a comfortable lead. Since she would replace Mark Dayton, there is not net less on the gun issue. Powerline is covering the Minnesota races in depth, and argues that Kennedy has the momentum to close and win.

District 1, Southern Minnesota: *Gil Gutknecht (A/A-) vs. Tim Walz (A/NR).

District 2, South of Minneapolis: *John Kline (A/A-) vs. Coleen Rowley (?/NR)

District 5, Minneapolis: Alan Fine (?/NR) vs. Keith Ellison (F/F). There’s no reason to expect that Fine would vote any better than Ellison on gun issues, and the conventional wisdom is Ellison will win this. But it would be highly injurious for the United States — and for peace-loving Muslims — that “America’s first Muslim Congressman” would be a former disciple of Louis Farrakhan and a present ally of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

District 6, St. Cloud: Michele Bachmann (A/A) vs. Patty Wetterling (F/NR). Bachmann and Wetterling have twice traded places in the lead, with Bachmann now in front, in what will likely be a very close finish. Wetterling is a gun control extremist. She is also the only federal candidate in Minnesota to receive a donation from Barbara Frey, the University of Minnesota law professor who wrote the report for the U.N. Human Rights Council that there is no human right to self-defense. And as Hugh Hewitt has explicated at length, Wetterling is also responsible for the most despicable advertisement of 2006, in which she lied by claiming that Republican leaders have admitted that they knew that Mark Foley was molesting children.

Senate: *Trent Lott (A+/B) vs. Erik Fleming (A/C). 

Senate: *Jim Talent (A/A) vs. Claire McCaskill (F/NR). The closest Senate race in the country. Among the many reasons that McCaskill deserves to lose is her use of Michael J. Fox to make the outrageously dishonest claim that Jim Talent wants to outlaw stem-cell research.

Senate: *Conrad Burns (A+/A) vs. Jon Tester (A/B). Tester is heavily supported by DailyKos and the rest of the netroots. Like many of them, Tester does not support the 
un control agenda.

Senate: Pete Ricketts (A/NR) vs. *Ben Nelson (A+/C). I’m not sure that Nelson deserves the A+, which is supposed to be reserved for leaders. but his voting record is good, and he is part of a growing group of pro-Second Amendment Democratic Senators.

District 3, most of the state except Omaha and Lincoln: Adrian Smith (A/A) vs. Scott Kleeb (A/NR).

Governor: Jim Gibbons (A+) vs. Dina Titus (C-). Like Trent Lott, Gibbons is a profligate wastrel on government spending, but his Second Amendment record is solid. He leads by 6-8 percent.

Senate: *John Ensign (A/A) vs. Jack Carter (A/D). The conventional wisdom is that Ensign’s seat is safe. 

District 2, the whole state except the southeast: Dean Heller (A/NR) vs. Jill Derby (A-/NR). Heller with a small lead. 

District 3, part of Las Vegas and the suburbs: *Jon Porter (A/A-) vs. Tessa Hafen  (A-/NR).

New Hampshire
Governor: Jim Coburn (B+) vs. *John Lynch (C-). Lynch was the only governor in 2006 to veto a “Stand your ground” bill. The bill would have stated that crime victims who are attacked in a public place do not have to retreat before defending themselves, and that deadly force can be used against any felony attack.

District 2 Western and northern N.H.: *Charles Bass (A/B-) vs.  Paul Hodes (?/C). Bass beat Hodes easily in 2004, but was caught napping this year, and will have to mobilize quickly to save his seat.

New Jersey
Senate: Thomas Kean (?/F) vs. *Robert Menendez (F/F-). Kean’s father was a strongly anti-gun governor.

District 7, North-central N.J.: *Mike Ferguson (D/F) vs. Linda Stender (F/F). 

New Mexico
Governor: John Dendahl (A) vs. *Bill Richardson (A). The incumbent has an enormous lead. I think fondly of him, since when he was a U.S. Representative, in 1989, he entered into the Congressional Record an article I had written which debunked the “assault weapon” hysteria. As governor, he enthusiastically signed a concealed-carry law.

Senate: Allen McCulloch (A/A) vs. *Jeff Bingaman (D/F).

District 1, Albuquerque: *Heather Wilson (A/B-) vs. Patricia Madrid (?/NR). Wilson has always had to work hard in this closely-balanced district. The latest poll shows her trailing slightly, but close enough to win with a big volunteer and GOTV effort.

New York
Imagine if a political party ran a slate consisting of Lord Voldemort, Doctor Doom, and Lex Luthor. That’s the situation facing gun owners in New York, where the top of the Democratic ticket is a collection of anti-gun rights super-villains. The extremist anti-gun record of the Clinton White House is well known. As attorney general, Elliot Spitzer filed an abusive lawsuit against firearms manufacturers, one of the many cases in which his office abused innocent people and business. As secretary of housing and urban development, Andrew Cuomo orchestrated his own slew of abusive lawsuits against law-abiding gun manufacturers.

All three super-villains are expected to win in landslides, and if the Republicans lose the state senate, gun owners are in for a great deal of trouble.

Governor: John Fasoa (A) vs. Eliot Spitzer (F).

Attorney General: Jeanine Pirro (C) vs. Andrew Cuomo (F-).

Senate: John Spencer (A) vs. *Hillary Clinton (F).

District 20, Saratoga: *John Sweeny (A/B-) vs. Kirsten Gillibrand (?/NR).     Some polls show this race is within the margin of error, while another gives the challenger a good lead.

District 24, Mohawk Valley: Ray Meier (A/A) vs. Michael Arcuri (F/NR). Arcuri leads in a two-week-old poll, but the district’s Republican registration gives Meier a realistic chance to win.

District 26, border of Lake Erie, and south: *Tom Reynolds (A+/A-) vs. Jack Davis (A-/A-). Reynolds is the most direct victim of the Foleygate smear. Reynolds has recovered, and is holding on to a small lead.

District 29 Southwest N.Y.: *Randy Kuhl (A/A-) vs. Eric Massa (?/NR).

North Carolina
District 11, far west: *Charles Taylor (A+/A-) vs. Heath Shuler (A/NR). Shuler leads, but Real Clear Politics calls the race a toss-up.

North Dakota
No other state has a pair of Senators with an anti-gun record so far out of line with the mainstream views of the state’s people.

Senate: Dwight Grotberg (A/NR) vs. *Kent Conrad (D+/NR). 

Governor: Kenneth Blackwell (A) vs. Ted Strickland (A). Both candidates are very good, but Strickland has this one sewn up. He will be an enormous improvement over the widely-disliked Bob Taft. If pro-rights forces can keep their majorities in the state legislature, there are excellent prospects for good reforms in Ohio, starting with preemption of some of the worst of the municipal anti-gun laws.

Attorney General: Betty Montgomery (C) vs. Marc Dann (A). I met Marc when I was a law student, and he was an undergraduate, at the University of Michigan. He ran Gary Hart’s statewide primary campaign, for which I was a volunteer. Marc organized the campaign brilliantly, and won about a third of the state’s delegates, despite unanimous opposition from the party establishment. Marc is another of this year’s fine crop of pro-Second Amendment Democrats, and would be a superb replacement for Betty Montgomery.

Senate: *Mike DeWine (F/F-) vs. Sherrod Brown (D+/F). DeWine probably votes against civil liberties more consistently than anyone else in Congress. The race was tied in September, but Brown now has a comfortable lead. It says a lot about DeWine’s Senate record that Brown, who comes from the very far left of the Ohio political spectrum, is higher rated on gun issues. 

District 1, Cincinnati: *Steve Chabot (A+/A-) vs. John Cranley (F/NR).

District 2, Kentucky border : *Jean Schmidt (A/A) vs. Victoria Wulsin (?/NR). The polls are going back and forth; it will likely be close.

District 12, Columbus: *Pat Tiberi (A/A) vs. Bob Shamansky (F/NR).  Tiberi ahead by 5.

District 15, Columbus: *Deborah Pryce (A-/A) vs. Mary Jo Kilroy (F/NR). Pryce’s record on gun issues in the 1990s was weak, but she is doing fine this century. Kilroy leads, according to an October 10 poll.

Governor: Ron Saxton (A) vs. *Ted Kulongoski (?). Kulongoski leads, but Saxton is within striking distance, in a race offering the second-best chance (after Wisconsin) for Republicans to unseat a Democratic governor.

Governor: Lynn Swann (A) vs. *Ed Rendell (F). Rendell’s lead appears insurmountable. Pro-rights activists will need to work very hard on state legislative races, because a large number of veteran legislators with excellent records were defeated in primaries, in a backlash over a legislative pay raise.

Senate: *Rick Santorum (A+/B-) vs. Bob Casey (A/NR). Casey maintains a double-digit lead.

District 4, west-central: *Melissa Hart (A/A-) vs. Jason Altmire (A/A). Hart was a leading advocate of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act. She has a small lead.

District 6, Montgomery County: *Jim Gerlach (A/A-) vs. Lois Murphy (F/NR). In 2004, Murphy lost to Gerlach by 6,500 votes. This time, she has a lead, but within the margin of error. The 6th congressional district is one of four eastern Pennsylvania districts where pro-gun Republican incumbents have tough races against very anti-gun Democrats.

District 7, Delaware County: *Curt Weldon (A-/C-) vs. Joe Sestak (F/NR). The polling in this district went south after it was revealed that Weldon’s daughter is a target of a FBI investigation involving corrupt Russian business deals. 

District 8, Bucks County: *Michael Fitzpatrick (A/C-) vs. Patrick Murphy (?/NR). Fitzpatrick was ahead last week, after trailing the week before. 

District 10, northeast: *Don Sherwood (A/A-) vs. Christopher Carney (F/NR). Sherwood trails in this conservative rural district because his former mistress accused him of assault. As in the 7th congressional district, the Republicans may lose the 10th due to integrity, rather than ideology.

District 12: Diana Irey (A/NR) vs. *John Murtha (A/B-). 

Rhode Island
Governor: *Donald Carcieri (A-) vs. Charles Fogarty (C). Although the race was tight in early October, Carcieri appears to be pulling away.

Attorney General: J. William Harsch (A) vs. *Patrick Lynch (D). Quite an important race, since Lynch has single-handedly shut down Rhode Island’s “shall issue” system for concealed handgun licensing.

Senate: *Lincoln Chafee (F/F) vs. Sheldon Whitehouse (?/NR). Chafee’s father introduced a bill to confiscate all handguns in the United States.

South Carolina
Governor: *Mark Sanford (A+) vs. Tommy Moore (A). The race appeared to tighten in late September, but Sanford’s lead keeps widening.

South Dakota
Governor: *Mike Rounds (A+)  vs. Jack Billion (?).

Governor: Jim Bryson (A) vs. *Philip Bredesen (A). Glenn Reynolds voted for Bredesen.

Senate: Bob Corker (A/NR) vs. Harold Ford (B/F). Neck and neck. Ford strikes me as similar to Al Gore — the Washington-bred son of an established political family, who votes on the pro-gun side to the extent he finds it politically expedient in Tennessee. As a U.S. Representative from a pro-gun district, Gore compiled a perfect voting record, and used it to springboard to the Senate. Then, when he began seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, he reversed himself, and became a strong gun control advocate. (And, fittingly, in 2000 lost his “home” state and the presidency because of his anti-gun stance.) 

During Ford’s early career as a U.S. Representative from Memphis, he was rated F by the NRA. His grade has improved significantly, as he has looked to statewide office. Apparently he learned from Al Gore’s mistakes, but his improved voting pattern is likely to continue only as long as Ford considers it expedient. At least in the short term, though, it would be reasonable to expect that Ford’s gun votes would reflect his October 29 statement “What Tennesseans will get will be a Jesus-loving, gun-supporting believer that families should come first, that taxes should be lower and America should be strong.”

Governor: *Rick Perry (A+) vs. Chris Bell (C) vs. (I) Carole Keeton Strayhorn (A) vs. (I) Kinky Friedman (?). The outsiders are doing very well here. Perry has about a third of the vote, Bell and Strayhorn about a fifth each, and Friedman about a sixth. 

Strayhorn is Scott McLellan’s mother. Her top issue is opposition to the Trans Texas Corridor, Governor Perry’s plan to seize half a million acres of private land in order to build toll superhighways.  

Friedman did not fill out the NRA questionnaire, but I was able to find a few quotes on the gun issue: “I’m not anti-hunting, I just don’t hunt. As far as gun control goes, in Texas the conceal-and-carry law is working really well; it’s cut crime and I think George W. did good with that one.” On his website he states, “The second amendment is every bit as important as the others. Texans have the right to keep and bear arms, as well as to hunt.”

I am reminded of 1992, when Second Amendment supporters were trying to figure out the position of another popular Texas independent, Ross Perot, and trying to read the tea leaves from scattered quotes. If Friedman wants the support of people who take the Second Amendment seriously, he will need to provide more specifics about his views.

Senate: *Kay Bailey Hutchison (A+/B) vs. Barbara Radnofsky (A/NR).

District 17, Waco: Van Taylor (A/A) vs. *Chet Edwards (B/D). Edwards cast the decisive vote in favor of the Clinton “assault weapon” ban, and has also voted for additional restrictions on gun shows.

District 22, Sugar Land: Shelly Sekula-Gibbs (A/NR) vs. Nick Lampson (A/C) vs. (L) Bob Smither (A/A). Tom Delay’s name is still on the ballot, so Sekula-Gibbs must run as a write-in. Delay was a very pro-active leader on Second Amendment issues. 

Senate: *Orrin Hatch (A+/C) vs. Pete Ashdown (A-/F). Hatch has a perfect voting record on guns, but is overly fond of omnibus federal crime bills with dangerous provisions for Second Amendment rights.

Governor: *Jim Douglas (A) vs. Scudder Parker (A-).

Senate: Rich Tarrant (A/NR) vs. (I) Bernie Sanders (C-/F).

At-Large: Martha Rainville (A/NR) vs. Peter Welch (A/NR). This seat is a guaranteed pro-gun gain, with the replacement of Rep. Bernie Sanders. Welch’s lead appears to be growing.

Senate: *George Allen (A+/A) vs. Jim Webb (A/NR). Allen has a significantly more pro-gun record than the two leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination — John McCain (great in the 20th century, poor in the 21st) and Rudy Giuliani (consistently awful). 

District 2, Norfolk: *Thelma Drake (A/A-) vs. Phil Kellam (A/NR). Seesawing lead.

Senate: Mike McGavick (A/NR) vs. *Maria Cantwell (F/F). McGavick still has a slender chance for an upset, but Cantwell has a solid lead.

District 5, eastern Washington: *Cathy McMorris (A/A-) vs. Peter Goldmark (?/NR). McMorris ahead by 5.

District 8, Bellevue: *Dave Reichert (B+/B-) vs. Darcy Bunder (?/NR). Reichert, a former sheriff, has a very small lead.

West Virginia
The most erudite former Klansman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, Robert Byrd has raised his NRA score, after supporting most of the anti-gun agenda during the Bush 39 and Clinton years.

Senate: John Raese (A/A) vs. *Robert Byrd (B/F).

District 1, northern W.V.: Chris Wakima (A/A-) vs. Alan Mollohan (A+/A-).

Governor: Mark Green (A) vs. *Jim Doyle (F). Doyle has twice vetoed concealed-carry legislation, and then thrown in the kitchen sink to convince a couple Democrats to switch sides, and sustain the veto. Doyle is ahead by a little, but Real Clear Politics rates the race a toss-up. If Green wins, Wisconsin citizens will win the right to protect themselves.

Senate: Robert Lorge (A/A) vs. *Herb Kohl (F/F-).

District 8, northeast Wisc.: John Gard (A/NR) vs. Steve Kagen (?/NR). An open seat race to replace Mark Green, who is running for Governor.

Governor: Ray Hunkins (A) vs. *Dave Freudenthal (A). At the order of Governor Freudenthal, Wyoming has sued the BATFE, because BATFE is claiming (arguably, in violation of federal statute) that Wyoming citizens who hold concealed handgun permits have to go through the National Instant Check System when they buy guns, even though the statute exempts concealed-carry permitees, since the permitees have already been through a check.

Senate. *Craig Thomas (A/A) vs. Dale Groutage (A/NR)

At-large. *Barbara Cubin (A+/A) vs. Gary Trauner (B/NR). Cubin leads by 4.

— Dave Kopel is research director at the Independence Institute.

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