NRA Endorses a Democrat for Missouri Governor
By Kurt Erickson
After a primary election season that featured the Republican candidate for Missouri governor shooting guns and blowing things up, the National Rifle Association on Tuesday endorsed his opponent, Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster.
The NRA Political Victory Fund said Koster's commitment to the Second Amendment earned him an "A" rating.
"For over 17 years, he has fought to preserve the constitutional rights of law-abiding Missourians," said Chris W. Cox, chairman, NRA-PVF. "The NRA is proud to endorse Chris Koster and we urge Missouri's gun owners and sportsmen to get out this November and vote to elect a governor with a proven record of fighting to preserve the Second Amendment."
The announcement came as Republican newcomer Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, was campaigning in Springfield and Chesterfield with Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence.
Greitens won a four-candidate primary in August to win the GOP nomination. His military career was central to his campaign, which included ads featuring him firing an assault rifle and a Gatling-style military machine gun.
Koster, a former Republican, is conservative on some issues, including gun rights.
Koster, who also has been endorsed by the Missouri Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups, said he was pleased to win another key endorsement heading into the Nov. 8 general election.
"As a rural prosecutor, state senator and now as attorney general, I have long defended Missouri's hunting heritage and Second Amendment rights. As governor, I pledge to continue to protect the traditions and values of people across Missouri," Koster said in a prepared statement.
The Greitens campaign downplayed the endorsement.
"We're not gonna win the career politician insider endorsement contest. But no one is stronger than Eric on Second Amendment issues and no one will fight harder to grow jobs and clean up the same old politics as usual holding Missouri back," campaign manager Austin Chambers said in a statement.
In its announcement, the NRA said Koster sealed the endorsement by supporting Proposition B, a 1999 right-to-carry referendum.
As a senator, Koster voted to streamline the right-to-carry permit process. And, as attorney general, he has backed gun rights.
Koster also broke with many members of his party to publicly support Senate Bill 656, which will loosen state gun laws. The measure was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and is expected to be debated during the Sept. 14 veto session.
Jennifer Baker, spokeswoman for the NRA in suburban Washington, said Greitens has made clear in his campaign statements and correspondence to the NRA that he supports the Second Amendment. But she said the organization endorsed Koster because he has a record on the issues as a public official.
"This endorsement is about Koster and his 17-year record," Baker said. "Eric Greitens has an AQ rating, but it is based upon how he filled out our questionnaire. He hasn't held public office and has no public record."
She said the "Q" modifier refers to his A-rated answers on the questionnaire.
Alongside Koster, NRA-PVF also endorsed Mike Parson for lieutenant governor, Josh Hawley for attorney general, Jay Ashcroft for secretary of state and Eric Schmitt for state treasurer. All of those candidates are Republicans.
"On behalf of our 5 million members and Missouri's law-abiding gun owners, we are proud to endorse strong Second Amendment supporters for statewide offices," Cox said.
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