Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Manatee lawmakers score high with National Rifle Association

Lawmakers in Washington and in Tallahassee representing Manatee County, who may find themselves in the midst of a new gun control debate in the wake of the Newtown massacre, have scored high marks with the National Rifle Association.

The NRA's Political Victory Fund most recently gave U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan a 92 percent rating based on his votes and positions on issues of interest to the NRA. By comparison, Buchanan's opponent in the Nov. 6 election, Keith Fitzgerald, received a 17 percent ranking, according to information compiled by Project Vote Smart.

But Buchanan's positions on issues important to the NRA and other gun rights activists did not translate into a financial boon for his campaign.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Buchanan most recently received a total of $1,000 in contributions from the "gun rights industry," not enough to crack the Top 50 industries supporting Buchanan. (No. 1 was the "health professionals" industry, with almost $251,000 for his campaign committee or his political action committee.)

A caveat: The data does not capture how much of the more than $2.5 million in contributions to Buchanan or his PAC he received from members of the NRA or other gun rights organizations.

At least in Florida, support from the NRA has not automatically translated into political success.

In 2012, Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., who also scored a 92 percent ranking from the NRA, received a total of $38,351 from the gun rights industry -- the most among Florida congressional candidates. But he lost his bid for re-election.

On the state level, Manatee's three representatives also scored high marks from the NRA.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton; and Rep. Greg Steube, R-Parrish, each received 92 percent rankings from the NRA in 2012, according to Project Vote Smart. Their respective opponents were not included in the listing.

A review of their campaign finance reports did not reveal support from any political action committees or individuals associated with the gun industry. The reports, which are filed with the Florida Division of Elections, also do not reveal whether individual donors are members of the NRA or other gun rights organization.

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