CNN broke the story this morning.  The National Rifle Association today endorsed Governor Ted Strickland over his rival, former Congressman/Fox News host/Lehman Bros. executive John Kasich.

It is the first endorsement the organization has made for the general election.

From the Strickland campaign press release:

“Governor Strickland is a steadfast supporter of gun owners and hunters. Whether as congressman or as governor, he has not been afraid to stand up for the Second Amendment even when under pressure from national elites,” NRA Political Victory Fund Chairman Chris Cox said. “That is why NRA Political Victory Fund is pleased to endorse Governor Strickland for reelection. We will be urging every gun owner and hunter in Ohio to vote Ted Strickland for Governor on November 2nd.”

“It is with great pride and gratitude that I accept the NRA’s endorsement,” Strickland said to a group of sportsmen in Proctorville. “I have always offered my unyielding support of Second Amendment rights and fought against any efforts to weaken these rights. Ohioans deserve a Governor who will not waver on the rights of gun owners.”

Strickland continued, “I believe that you can tell where a person is going by looking at where they have been. I grew up as one of nine children in rural Scioto County.  For us, hunting and fishing was more than a sport—it was our heritage.  From the time of my youth in Southern Ohio to my service as a congressman and governor, I have always supported sportsmen in my actions, my lifestyle, and my policies.” 

The organization did not endorse in 2006, despite the fact that Strickland had a solid pro-Second Amendment voting record in Congress, and Blackwell could only point to promises to support gun rights as he had no real voting record on the issue.

However, Kasich’s gun record made it virtually impossible for Kasich to win the votes of sportsmen.

  • In 1986, Kasich voted for the Hughes Amendment that restricted the rights of handgun owners.  [HR 4332, 4/1986]
  • In 1994, Congressman Kasich voted twice to support the Clinton Administration’s assault weapons ban.  [HR 4296, 5/5/1994; HR 3355, 8/21/1994].
  • In 1996, after the Republicans took over Congress, Kasich voted AGAINST repealing the assault weapons ban. [HR 125, 3/22/1996].

Based on this congressional record, the NRA rated Kasich as an “F” in 1994.

Kasich’s gun votes have been a problem for him as he’s attempt to claim the mantle of the Tea Party who, not surprising, having used Kasich’s fascinating Google machine, recalled that he hasn’t been the avid supporter of sportsman and gun owners as he claimed to be.  Kasich has also been caught apologizing to the Tea Party for these votes and saying he regrets them while proudly boasting of them to the New York Times.

Even if you are a supporter for gun control, you have to admit that it will be nice seeing Jon Keeling and Matt Naugle advocate against the election of the NRA-endorsed candidate.  It also causes problems for Kasich as it complicates his turnout model.  The Ohio Republican Party can mail out of the Sportsmen for Kasich mailers they want, but the NRA is seen as the real seal of approval.

As the CNN story put it:

The endorsement is the second bit of good news in recent days for Strickland as he campaigns against the headwind of a volatile political climate and his state’s unsettling jobless rate.

On Friday, Strickland’s campaign announced having $7.7 million on hand for the campaign – a $2 million advantage over Kasich. Both campaigns collected roughly $1.3 million during the most recent fundraising period.

Good times.