The National Rifle Association (NRA) Political Victory Fund announced Monday its endorsement of John Arriola for the 5th Congressional District of Tennessee.
An NRA press release states that Arriola's major opponents in this Democratic primary, Jim Cooper and Gayle Ray, have demonstrated “outright hostility” or “indifference” to Second Amendment issues.
“As a [former] Congressman, Jim Cooper repeatedly voted for more federal gun laws,” the release states, adding that Ray, the Davidson County jailer, “refused to complete and return the NRA questionnaire.”
Ray’s spokesperson Genie Dunn responded simply that, “Gayle doesn’t stand on the same side as NRA.”
Cooper spokesman Mike Kopp said it’s unfortunate the NRA has such a distorted view of Cooper’s congressional record while he was a representative of the largely rural 4th District. With the exception of two votes, one involving the Brady Bill and one against armor piercing ammunition or "cop-killer" bullets, Kopp said Cooper had a 12-year voting history favoring issues pertinent to the NRA.
“That’s over-inflated,” Kopp said Monday of the NRA press release."Jim supports the Second Amendment."
The endorsement boosts Arriola, generally considered to be running third in the 5th District race. However, Arriola has appeared to make strides late in the campaign as a result of the bitter feud between front-runners Cooper and Ray. Politicos say Arriola is smartly playing the role of the conciliatory candidate in the campaign’s late stages—something that’s been evident in his effective late television campaign. Additionally, he has begun running television advertisements that have gotten positive reviews from many observers.
The NRA chose not to endorse either of the Republican candidates in the U.S. Senate race. Both Lamar Alexander and Ed Bryant are considered equally strong on Second Amendment issues. It’s another example of how similar the two candidates are in ideology.
Monday, an Alexander campaign staffer did point out however that Alexander had received the support of Bob Pope, organizer of Bob Pope’s Gun Shows. Pope is one of the best-known gun enthusiasts in Tennessee whose shows are enormously popular.
Previously, Pope owned what is now Ken’s Gold Club (“Where all the girls are 24K”), a “gentleman’s” showbar on 5th Avenue South in Nashville. Pope has told NashvillePost.com that he is no longer involved in the adult business marketplace and hasn’t been for a long time.
Last week the NRA endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Van Hilleary over his primary opponent, Jim Henry.
In other campaign news, the Tennessee Right to Life PAC Monday endorsed Hilleary, who has voted for a ban on partial birth abortions eight times as a congressman.