Political Notebook

NRA’s incumbent-friendly policy may boost 58 House Democrats in November

“I have absolutely no interest,’’ Secretary of State Clinton said of running for vice president in 2012. “I have absolutely no interest,’’ Secretary of State Clinton said of running for vice president in 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
October 7, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Not a lot of things have gone the Democrats’ way this year, but dozens of their House candidates are getting a late boost from an unusual source: the National Rifle Association.

So far this year, the NRA has endorsed 58 incumbent House Democrats, including more than a dozen in seats both parties view as critical to winning a majority.

The endorsements are not because of a sudden love for a party with which the NRA is often at odds.

Rather, it is because the powerful group adheres to what it calls “an incumbent-friendly’’ policy, which holds that if two candidates are equally supportive of gun rights, the incumbent gets the nod.

The policy has been in place for some time, and the NRA has always backed a number of Democrats, but the group’s choices have become especially contentious this year because control of Congress is at stake and because so many gun-supporting Democrats were elected over the past four years.

The policy is frustrating Republicans who believe the group is hurting its own cause and the party’s chances in November.

Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Democrat of South Dakota, got the NRA’s endorsement even though her Republican opponent, Kristi Noem, has made her fondness for hunting a prominent part of her campaign.

Noem’s campaign manager, Joshua Shields, complained that regardless of Herseth Sandlin’s record on gun issues, she would still support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, “one of the most anti-gun speakers Congress has ever had.’’

“We made that argument to the NRA,’’ Shields said. “Obviously, it didn’t work.’’

The thumbs-up from the NRA has given Democrats such as Herseth Sandlin, who represent conservative districts, an opportunity to fight back against repeated attacks that they are tied to their party’s liberal leaders in Washington.

With an NRA endorsement in hand, candidates are able to assert that they are willing to choose their constituents over their leaders when warranted.

Among vulnerable Democrats who have won NRA backing are Representatives Betsy Markey of Colorado, Harry Teague of New Mexico, Chet Edwards of Texas, Allen Boyd of Florida, Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, Debbie Halvorson of Illinois, Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania, and John Boccieri of Ohio.

— Washington Post

Clinton dismisses talk of vice presidency in ’12
ASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she has no interest in replacing Vice President Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket with President Barack Obama in 2012.

Clinton, 62, who lost the Democratic nomination to Obama in 2008 after a 17-month primary campaign, dismissed speculation that Obama may seek to replace Biden in an effort to attract a broader base of support.

“I have absolutely no interest and no reason for doing anything other than just dismissing these stories and moving on,’’ said Clinton, responding to a question about the possibility of a job-swap at Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women conference in Washington. “I don’t believe what I read.’’

Speculation about Clinton’s role in any bid by Obama for reelection increased after Bob Woodward, an author and editor at the Washington Post, said in a CNN interview last night that putting Clinton on the ticket in 2012 is “on the table.’’ He said some of Clinton’s advisers “see it as a real possibility.’’

— Bloomberg News

Obama loses a little glow among Chicago supporters
CHICAGO — Even in Barack Obama’s hometown, they had hoped for more.

The president will be stumping for Senate candidate and basketball buddy Alexi Giannoulias today in Chicago, a city where every other person crossing the street seems to have a story about descending on Grant Park, where the Obamas celebrated their historic win of the 2008 election, or proudly watching the president take the oath on television.

But nearly two years after Obama took office, while the president remains widely popular in the city, his image has slipped a bit as many people wonder where the promised change and jobs are, even if they believe such talk is probably a bit unfair.

“I talk to people, you know, who thought he would just have a magic wand,’’ said Ira Acree, a pastor on the city’s South Side. Around strongly Democratic Illinois, Obama’s approval ratings have fallen in some polls — to 51 percent from 59 percent a year ago, according to a Tribune/WGN-TV survey in September.

— Associated Press