At-Risk GOP Senators Flush with Gun Money

Republican US senators fighting for their political life this election year have gotten tens and thousands of dollars from the gun lobby. They may have their eyes on how to avoid a down-ticket drag from presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump but perhaps they should look toward a possible backlash from the fact the gun lobby is plying them with campaign cash.

US Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

US Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH), Richard Burr (SC), Ron Johnson (WI) and Rob Portman (OH) are all on the endangered senators list this year. They are either dead-even or trailing their opponents in recent polls. They also are in the pocket of the gun lobby.

These GOP senators have some serious Democratic opponents: sitting Gov. Maggie Hassan, former state Rep. Deborah Ross, former US Sen. Russ Feingold, former Gov. Ted Strickland, respectively.

US Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).

US Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).

Sure, it’s a serious charge for me to say the Republicans are in the gun lobby’s pocket but take a look their gun-rights support*: Ayotte – $64,095; Burr – $96,550; Johnson – $57,925; Portman – $55,150.

All of the above have been reliable anti-gun control votes although they are in various degrees of trying to move after the Orlando massacre. Ayotte has a reliable “no” vote on expanded background checks. Burr is endorsed by the NRA. Johnson didn’t even vote on a 2015 gun control proposal—a real profile in courage, eh? Portman now says he supports ban terrorist suspects from buying guns.

US Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH}.

US Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH}.

These vulnerable lawmakers are also in various degrees of fleeing Trump. Ayotte is trying to have every way possible—she’ll vote for him but won’t endorse him or attend the Republican convention. Burr supports Trump, Johnson doesn’t seem to care. He’s endorsing Trump and is attending the convention. Portman has had to dispel the idea that he might be chosen as the Trump vice presidential pick.