The NRA has its say
The National Rifle Association has issued its customary election-year survey of which candidates in Vermont it approves. The list comes as an insertion in the organization’s magazine American Rifleman and shows the group’s sophistication in disseminating its opinions.
The endorsements are relatively nonpartisan, and the names of endorsed candidates are printed in red ink, while those not endorsed are still listed but with names in ordinary black ink.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin’s strong endorsement comes with a photograph included in the paragraph that explains why the endorsement is given, and it’s not usual for a photo to be included.
Neither independent incumbent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders nor his Republican challenger John McGovern is endorsed. And the same goes for Democratic incumbent Congressman Peter Welch and his Republican challenger Mark Donka.
As for candidates for the other statewide offices, of those endorsed by the NRA, all are Republicans — Lt. Gov. Phil Scott for re-election, Wendy Wilton as candidate for state treasurer, and Vincent Illuzzi as candidate for auditor of accounts. There was no endorsement for either the Republican candidate for attorney general or the Democratic incumbent William Sorrell.
Of those running for the state Senate, the party endorsements were fairly mixed. In Addison County the Democratic candidates each got the nod. In Bennington County incumbent Sen. Dick Sears was endorsed. Caledonia County’s incumbents, Joe Benning, Republican, and Jane Kitchel, Democrat, gained backing. Out of eight running in Chittenden County only two, Republican Shelley Palmer and incumbent Democrat Tim Ashe got NRA approval. For Essex-Orleans, Democrats John S. Rodgers and incumbent Robert A. Starr won endorsement over two Republicans.
In Franklin County, however, the two Republicans, Dustin Allard Degree and Norm McAllister, were endorsed over two Democrats. But the Grand Isle incumbent, Democrat Richard Mazza, was endorsed, and so was Lamoille incumbent Republican Richard A. Westman. There was no endorsement for a candidate from Orange County.
Rutland County’s incumbents gained endorsement regardless of party — Republicans Peg Flory and Kevin Mullin and Democrat Bill Carris. Of the five running for three Washington County seats, only Republican incumbent William Doyle won NRA endorsement. But in Windham County the two incumbent Democrats, Peter W. Galbraith and Jeanette White were both backed. Out of six seeking Windsor County’s three Senate seats, only Democratic incumbent Alice W. Nitka won NRA approval.
Of the many House races, in the various Addison districts only one Republican and one Democrat, both incumbents, were endorsed. But in Bennington 2-1 Republican challenger Warren Roaf won backing over two Democratic incumbents. Incumbents were favored in Bennington 2-2, Bennington 3 and Bennington-Rutland districts. There were no endorsements in Bennington 4.
Out of the many candidates seeking office in the 25 Chittenden districts, only six people were approved by the NRA, five Republicans and one Democrat.
In Rutland 2, Democrat incumbent Dave Potter got the nod. Incumbent Republicans William Canfield and Robert Helm were endorsed in Rutland 3. The same went for incumbent Democrat Herb Russell in Rutland 5-3, for Republican Douglas Gage in Rutland 5-4, Republican Seth Hopkins in Rutland 6, and incumbent Republican Dennis Devereux in Rutland-Windsor-2.
In the Windham and Windsor House districts, only six gained favor with the NRA. They were Republican Mike Hebert in Windham 1, Democrats Carolyn Partridge and Matthew A. Trieber in Windham 3, Democrat John Moran in Windham-Bennington, Democrat Alice M. Emmons in Windsor 3-2, and Republican David M. Ainsworth in Windsor-Orange 1. All but Ainsworth are incumbents.
It is not clear if the endorsement by the NRA helps or hinders a candidate in an election. Some candidates have felt it helps, but others say a nonendorsement hasn’t hurt their chances at the ballot. As with other issues, it probably depends on the district’s geographical and political position, as well as the individual’s personality.
Kendall Wild is a retired editor of the Herald.