Amodei’s campaign released a statement announcing he was endorsed by the powerful National Rifle Association in the upcoming election for Nevada’s open 2nd Congressional District seat.
“This endorsement shows that I fully support the Second Amendment rights of the residents in this district,” Amodei, a former state senator, said. “As a hunter, I understand their concerns and they should know I’m the only candidate in this race who will be an advocate for them.”
Chris Cox, chairman of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund, praised Amodei’s stance on concealed weapons laws, gun confiscations during states of emergency, and protections for firearm manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits.
Not to be out-gunned, Marshall’s campaign was quick on the draw with a statement of its own, saying the current state treasurer received a rating of “AQ” from the same organization.
The rating denotes a “pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on his or her responses to the ... candidate questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues,” James J. Baker, director of federal services for the NRA, said in letter released by Marshall’s campaign.
“On behalf of gun owners, hunters and shooters in Nevada, we thank you for your support of our Second Amendment rights and hunting heritage,” Baker wrote.
Marshall said she was proud of the NRA rating, saying it shows her “understanding of Nevada’s western way of life.”
“This election is about protecting Nevadans’ interests and their priorities, and responsible gun ownership is one of those priorities in Nevada that I will protect,” she said.
Courting gun owners is as much a part of American politics as apple pie on the Fourth of July, with big dollars at play.
“Certainly in a district where Second Amendment issues are significant, a candidate would want to tout a connection to the National Rifle Association,” said Michael Beckel, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization that tracks money in politics.
The NRA, he said, “is among 40 organizations that we call heavy hitters.”
“The NRA is one of those big dogs in the neighborhood,” he said. Since 1989, the organization has contributed more than $18 million to federal candidates, including $1.3 million in the last election cycle.
In addition, the NRA spent $8.35 million on independent expenditures and electioneering communications — ads not coordinated with a candidate but designed to aid one candidate over another, Beckel said.
Amodei and Marshall are running in a Sept. 13 special election to replace Republican Dean Heller in the U.S. House. Heller was appointed to the Senate in May by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District is a sprawling, mostly rural area that encompasses most of the state — all of 16 counties and a sliver of the largest, Clark County, in the south. Republicans hold about a 30,000 voter registration edge district wide.
Early voting begins Saturday.
Independent American Party candidate Tim Fasano and independent Helmuth Lehmann also will appear on the ballot.