Chairman's Corner: Not All Candidates are Created Equal

It’s official! MNGOPAC has issued our first endorsement for the 2014 mid-term elections. We are proud to support Minnesota State Senator Julianne Ortman for United States Senator.

Now, this isn’t going to be another rehash of a news release…you can see the press release and related information on our website. I want to take you behind the veil, to show you what goes into an endorsement such as this and walk you through how we make these decisions.

We cannot do any of this without your support, and we owe it to you to show how we work on behalf of Minnesota’s law-abiding gun owners.

As the chief political strategist within MNGOPAC, I spend a great deal of time examining candidates, races, polls, and my own gut instincts based on past experience. We do not make endorsements lightly, as we know that many of you look to us to help decode the flood of information that you see every day in the news and online.

MNGOPAC does have a defined minimum criteria for endorsements. The specifics of the criteria are available only to PAC leadership to prevent a candidate from simply telling us what we want to hear, but there are some obvious starting points.

One thing to remember is that MNGOPAC is a “single-issue” political action committee. I will speak briefly as myself toward the end of this article, but when it comes to PAC endorsements we do not grade on issues outside the Second Amendment. Whether the topic is Obamacare, tax cuts, or conspiracy theories… none of those are within the mission of this organization.

We believe in personal responsibility, and part of the responsibility of being Americans is to determine for yourselves which topics are most important when electing your leaders. MNGOPAC seeks to provide guidance related to the Second Amendment.

With that in mind, let us break down the US Senate race in Minnesota.

As an incumbent, we have Al Franken who has shown himself to be about as anti-gun as possible. We definitely have no interest in him.

The Republican field in this race is large, but if you look closely at polls and fundraising numbers there are very few serious candidates. The opinion of PAC leadership is that following the February caucuses, only two viable candidates will remain: Senator Ortman and Mike McFadden.

A third candidate of note has been State Representative Jim Abeler, who did very poorly in the recent Liberty Caucus straw poll, coming in at 0%. To be fair to Rep. Abeler, that likely had nothing to do with his stance on the Second Amendment as he has a solid 92% rating from the NRA, and we look forward to speaking with him about his Minnesota House campaign.

Mr. McFadden is on record with MinnPost and WCCO as being open to expanding background checks, and that is absolutely unacceptable. I should note that his campaign did not respond to my request for clarification on his statements (I submitted my questions and contact information via his website, as they did not have any email or phone contact available that I could find at the time).

By showing any hesitance related to the threat of universal background checks, we fear he is either not a supporter of the Second Amendment, or is entirely ignorant of the upcoming legislative battle that we face against people like Michael Bloomberg. Either way, he does not stand with law-abiding gun owners.

All of that is secondary, however, because we have a candidate in this race who has proven her support for the Second Amendment.

Senator Julianne Ortman holds a 92% rating from the NRA, but that isn’t nearly the extent of her support. She has also shown through her voting record that she is a friend to law-abiding gun owners by voting for the Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act (“carry law”) in 2003 and 2005, by voting for Stand Your Ground in 2012, and most recently by standing up to perennial bully Ron Latz in the Senate Judiciary Committee near the end of the 2013 session.

It’s not just about NRA ratings or voting records. Numbers help, but they don’t paint the entire picture. We need people like Senator Ortman who are willing to make the Second Amendment a key issue in their campaigns.

Julianne has listed the Second Amendment prominently on her campaign material, and is proud to stand with us and support our Second Amendment rights. That is the type of candidate we are looking for - we want leaders who are unafraid to speak in favor of our right to keep and bear arms.

Speaking as myself, it is my belief that she will win in the caucuses, and I also personally believe that she is by far the strongest candidate to beat Al Franken in the general election.

Please make sure that you attend your precinct caucus, and support your Second Amendment rights by supporting Julianne Ortman. We need to send a clear message to Mr. McFadden that support for universal background checks is a deal-breaker, and therefore he needs to step aside and allow Senator Ortman to move ahead cleanly so that she can focus solely on beating Al Franken in November 2014.

Mark Okern

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