The National Rifle Association on Monday announced its endorsement of Republican Larry Hogan in Maryland’s gubernatorial contest, citing his “support and commitment to the Second Amendment.”
The backing by the organization’s Political Victory Fund comes in a race in which Hogan’s opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), has spent a lot more time talking about Hogan’s positions on guns than the Republican has.
Brown has aired provocative television ads featuring an assault rifle resting against a swing set to highlight Hogan’s opposition to a sweeping gun-control bill passed by the legislature last year. Hogan, meanwhile, has sought to downplay the importance of the issue, pledging that he wouldn’t seek to overturn the year-old law and accusing Brown of trying to scare voters on an issue not central to the campaign.
In a news release issued Monday, the NRA said that “Larry Hogan respects the rule of law and the Second Amendment rights of Maryland’s law-abiding citizens. In sharp contrast, his opponent, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, is a true enemy of gun owners’ rights.”
Hogan spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said Hogan had not sought the NRA endorsement. “It was a surprise to us,” she said.
The NRA had previously awarded Hogan a grade of “A-” for his answers on a wide-ranging questionnaire. Brown received a grade of “F” from the group.
Hogan has resisted calls in recent weeks by gun-control advocates, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, to make his answers public.
On Monday, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who has endorsed Brown, announced the launch of an online petition drive meant to pressure Hogan to release a copy of the questionnaire.