Saturday, March 3, 2018
By KURTIS LEE and MALOY MOORE
During the 1992 election cycle, the NRA contributed 37% of its congressional campaign donations to Democrats. Republicans got the lion's share — 63% of the $1.8 million the group gave that year — but it was not as if the NRA was a pseudo-wing of the party.
By 2016, that had all changed.
According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in political campaigns, nearly 99% of the $1 million in NRA contributions to congressional candidates in 2016 went to Republicans. The few Democrats who did get money — Reps. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Tim Walz of Minnesota — all have A ratings from the group. What changed? Two things, according to many of those who have followed the group.
First, in the fall of 1994, the Democratic-controlled Congress — with staunch opposition from the NRA — narrowly passed a 10-year federal ban on assault weapons. In the two-year period leading up to the vote on the issue, the NRA increased its contributions to Republicans by about $675,000 while reducing contributions to Democrats by nearly $200,000. It was the group's largest single-cycle — or two-year — dip in donations to Democrats.
Second, many who study the issue say, both the NRA and the Republican Party became more implacably opposed to gun regulations, while Democrats mostly favored them.
"It is all about playing to the arch-conservative base," said Robert Spitzer, chairman of the political science department at the State University of New York at Cortland, who has written extensively on politics and gun control. He said that since the 1994 assault weapons vote, the NRA "locked itself into a pattern of ever more apocalyptic, extremist, uncompromising rhetoric." The progression, he said, coincided with the Republican Party's own shift to the right.
Spitzer said Democrats have mostly remained consistent in their positions on gun control, but there "are fewer of those so-called Blue Dog Democrats around who supported less gun control." Indeed, in the early to mid-2000s, moderate Democrats from conservative-leaning states such as Arkansas and Louisiana received NRA support, although not at the levels seen in the early 1990s, according to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics.
The NRA did not respond to a request for comment about its political spending.
One question now is whether the NRA's shift in contribution patterns poses a long-term threat to the group's power. A change in power in Congress, or defections by Republicans, could leave the group on the outside.
The chief executive of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, seemed to be worried about the former scenario when he spoke last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "If they seize power … our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever," he said. "The first to go will be the 2nd Amendment."
LaPierre didn't explicitly identify "they," but the message was clear.
In the weeks since a gunman killed 17 people at a South Florida high school, some Republicans — including, at least briefly, President Trump — have broken ranks with the gun rights group to support modest gun control legislation, such as raising the age limit for buying assault weapons and banning so-called bump stocks, which turn semiautomatic weapons into something close to machine guns.
But despite a surge in mass shootings — seven of the deadliest in modern U.S. history have happened since 2007 — the NRA has remained mostly steadfast in its opposition to any gun control legislation. In 2012, after mass shootings at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., various proposals — such as requiring more thorough background checks — lost traction in Congress because of a lack of Republican support. But soon after, several blue or purple states, including Colorado, California, Connecticut and Maryland, passed some of the strictest gun laws in the country. In Colorado, the then-Democratic-controlled Legislature passed bills requiring universal background checks to buy guns, and limits on ammunition magazines. Not a single Republican supported the legislation.
After Tom Sullivan lost a son, Alex, who was killed on his 27th birthday in the Aurora theater shooting, he gained a singular focus: The country needed stricter gun laws and the NRA was in the way.
"The NRA is about fear and stifling progress," Sullivan said. "Republicans are so concerned that the NRA will put up money to primary them that the thought of supporting gun control legislation is almost unheard of."
If that has changed in recent days, it mirrors a shift in the views of voters.
In a CNN/SSRS poll released days after the Florida shooting, 70% of people questioned supported stricter gun laws — the largest share since 1993. That included 49% of Republicans, up from 30% in October, after the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. Since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a slew of corporations have rushed to cut ties with the NRA. At the same time, some Republicans have pushed back against the powerful special interest group in ways that, a month ago, seemed unimaginable. Rep. Brian Mast, a Florida Republican who lost his legs while serving in Afghanistan, recently called for a ban on assault weapons. And Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who has an A rating from the NRA, said he supports raising the minimum age for purchasing semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21. In an extraordinary televised meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday, Trump indicated support for such legislation and even suggested he would support taking guns away from citizens, and worry about the legality of such a move later.
"I like taking guns away early," Trump said. "Take the guns first, go through due process second."
Rick Tyler, a longtime Republican political strategist and NRA supporter who has worked on several state-level campaigns, said Trump's comments were concerning. "He demonstrated that he is going to sell out every member of the NRA and every law-abiding gun owner in America," Tyler said, adding that the group shouldn't worry about the handful of Republicans rebuking them. Despite declines in gun ownership nationwide, "the NRA will not lose influence," said Tyler. "If anything they will gain it because their members contribute and they vote."
On Friday, following a meeting with NRA officials, the White House emphasized that Trump was committed to defending the 2nd Amendment.
Trump takes six positions on gun control: Why that matters »
Still, Nathan Gonzales, editor of Inside Elections, a nonpartisan group that analyzes congressional and gubernatorial races nationwide, said that "it's really unheard of to witness Republicans so vocal in supporting legislation that the NRA opposes."
"Is this a breaking point? … Time will tell, but Republicans and the NRA have gone hand in hand for a long time," Gonzales said.
In past years, Republicans have rebuffed the NRA and have faced challenges. In election cycles between 2010 and 2018, the NRA spent nearly $36.4 million in support of Republicans, while also spending about $256,000 to oppose members of the GOP in primaries, general elections and the special Senate election in Alabama last year.
Former Indiana Sen. Richard G. Lugar was among the NRA's primary targets. In 2012, the group spent $169,000 in opposition to his reelection. Lugar, a Republican who had served more than three decades in the Senate, often held moderate views on gun legislation, voting in support of the assault weapons ban in 1994. He had an F rating —usually reserved for liberal Democrats — from the NRA. Lugar lost in a primary to a candidate supported by the NRA. Earlier in the week, during the meeting about school safety and gun control, Trump highlighted the fear that some Republicans — not himself, he said — have when dealing with the NRA.
During the meeting, Trump, who got nearly $10.6 million in support from the group in 2016, asked Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) if the bipartisan background-check bill he helped author in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting included a provision to raise the age to buy rifles from 18 to 21. (The gunman in the elementary school shooting was 20.)
Toomey said it did not. "You know why?" Trump prodded. "Because you're afraid of the NRA."
The ruling PML-N and opposition PPP have won the maximum number of seats in the Senate's elections held on Saturday, unofficial results show.
Polling for 52 vacant seats was held in the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.
According to the results received from National Assembly and four provincial assemblies, PML-N has become the majority party in the Upper House of the Parliament followed by PPP. PTI is now the third largest party in the Senate.
Who Won Where
Unofficial results show that PML-N has won as many as 15 Senate seats from Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad.
PPP has won 12 seats from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively.
Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf has has won six seats - five Senate seats from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one from Punjab.
The JUI-F has managed one seat each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
The Jamaat-e-Islami has managed to elect one Senator from Khyber Pakhtunhwa
Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan must be disappointing with the results as the party has only got one seat in Sindh.
Pakistan Muslim League-Function won one Seat seat from Sindh.
In FATA, four independent candidates emerged as victorious by securing seven votes each.
The National Party got two candidates elected in the Senate from Balochistan Assembly.
Pakhtukhwa Milli Awami Party of Mahmood Khan Achakzai bagged two Senate seats from Balochistan Assembly.
Six seats were won by independent candidates in Balochistan Assembly.
Four independent candidates have won four Senate seats by securing seven votes each.
According to unofficial results, Senator designate Hidayatullah, Hilal-ur-Rehman, Shamim Muhammad Afridi and Mirza Muhammad Afridi would represent FATA in Senate for next six years term.
According to unofficial and provisional results, PML (N) supported candidates have won both the Senate seats from the Federal Capital Territory.
Former Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mushahid Hussain Syed and son of former Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo, Asad Ali Khan Junejo have been elected as Senators for Islamabad.
According to unofficial results, the candidates backed by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) won the elections with clear majority on one technocrat and one general seat.
According to details, Mushahid Hussain Syed secured 223 votes on technocrat seat while PPPP Candidate Raja Shakil Abbasi remained runner up by securing 64 votes.
Thirteen votes were rejected by the officials.
Asad Ali Khan Junejo was declared successful on general seat of Islamabad by securing 214 votes.
Raja Imran Ashraf of PPP got only 45 votes while Kanwal Shozef who got 32 votes. Nine votes were termed rejected on this contest.
As many as 300 MNAs cast their votes on one each seat of General and technocrat from Islamabad.
Independent candidates backed by PML-N won 11 out of 12 senate seats in Punjab Assembly. Seven candidates contested for general seats, one for minority , two for technocrat and two for women seats.
Out of seven senate general seats in Punjab, independent candidates backed by PML-N won six general seats, whereas PTI
candidate Chaudhry Sarwar won one seat.
According to official results, PML-N backed candidates Dr Asif Kirmani secured 42 votes, Dr Musadik Malik 42 votes,
Rana Maqbool 43 votes, Zubair Gul 38 votes, Haroon Akhtar 42 votes and Shaheen Khalid Butt 41 votes, whereas PTI candidate Chaudhary Muhammad Sarwar got 44 votes.
Kamran Michael, an Independent candidate backed by PML-N, was elected on the minority seat by securing 321 votes.
While former finance minister Ishaq Dar and Hafiz Abdul Karim were elected on technocrat seats by securing 155 votes and 160 votes, respectively.
PML-N backed independent candidates Saadia Abbasi and Nuzhat Sadiq were also elected on two women Senate seats by securing 160 votes and 152 votes, respectively.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won 10 out of total 12 Senate seats in Sindh Assembly and emerged as the leading party in the province.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Pakistan Muslim League-F won seat each. Out of total 166 eligible votes, 161 votes were polled. Five MPAs could not participate because of being out of country.
The total strength of Sindh Assembly is 168 members. Two MPAs from PPP had died recently.
ECP's Provincial Commissioner M.Yousuf Khattak informed the media that of 161 polled votes, 25 were rejected in different categories.
He said the winners on seven general seats of the Senate includedPPP's Moula Bakhsh Chandio, Imamuddin Shauqeen, Raza Rabbani, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Muhammad Ali Jamote, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah from PML-F and Firogh Naseem Advocate from MQM-P. On the two technocrats seats, PPP's Dr. Sikandar Ali Mandhro and Rukhsana Zuberi were declared successful.
PPP's Qurat-ul-Ain and Kesu Bai (Kirshna Kolhi) bagged two seats for women while Anwar Laluddin of PPP succeeded on the minority seat.
He said ECP would share detailed results with the Media on Sunday.
Five out of eleven Senate seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly were won by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), while Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League backed independent candidates won two seats each and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUIF) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) also got one seat each.
According to unofficial results, out of the seven general seats PTI obtained three while PML-N backed independent candidate, PPP, JUI-F and JI clinched one each.
The wining candidates on General seats included Pir Sabir Shah (Independent/PML-N) Faisal Javed (PTI), Talha Mahmood (JUI-F), Bahramand Khan Tangi (PPP), Mohammad Ayub (PTI), Fida Mohammad (PTI) and Mushtaq Ahmad Khan (JI).
Dr. Meher Taj Roghani of PTI and Robina Khalid of PPP were elected on women seats.
Azam Sawati of PTI and Dilawar Khan PML-N backed independent candidate were elected on the Technocrats seats.
Eleven new senators including, six independent candidates were elected in Balochistan Assembly on Saturday, according to unofficial results.
The wining candidates are Anwar ul Haq Kakar (independent supported by PML-N), Ahmed Khan (independent), Kuda Babar (independent), Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani (independent), Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen (Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party), Muhammad Akram ( National Party) and Molvi Faiz Muhammad (JUI-F) were elected on general seats.
While Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo (National Party) and Naseeb Ullah Bazai (independent supported by PML-N) were elected on Technocrats seats.
Abida Umar (Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party) and Sana Jamali (independent) won the elections on women reserved seats.