NASHVILLE - The National Rifle Association's political arm has endorsed U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in Tennessee's 4th Congressional District GOP primary and is wishing him "good luck with your campaign."
The powerful gun-rights lobby's Political Victory Fund awarded the incumbent an "A" rating, which NRA-ILA director of federal affairs James J. Baker said in the July 14 letter is "reserved for a solidly pro-gun legislator who has supporter NRA positions on key votes."
Baker wrote the group is "proud" to endorse DesJarlais, who faces a tough challenge from state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, in the Aug. 7 seven-candidate GOP primary.
"Throughout your career, you have consistently opposed all attempts to ban lawfully-owned firearms and magazines, and have stood strong against President Obama and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloombberg's gun control agenda," Baker wrote in the letter, provided by the South Pittsburg physician's campaign.
Tracy also was awarded an "A," but the NRA-ILA is prone to favor incumbents who back its position over challengers. All six of the state's other incumbent GOP congressmen won the group's endorsement.
In a news release, DesJarlais said he was "honored" by the endorsement. "When I ran for Congress, I promised I would never compromise when it came to protecting our right to keep and bear arms," DesJarlais said. "I am proud to have held the line time and time again against the Obama administration's unconstitutional attempts to curtail our Second Amendment rights."
The group's top grade is A+.
Meanwhile, the NRA-ILA has given candidate Tommy Crangle an "AQ" rating in the state House District 27 GOP primary in Hamilton County. That's a qualified grade awarded to a pro-gun candidate who doesn't hold office, hasn't voted on gun issues but responds favorably to the NRA's questionnaire.
The group put a question mark beside the name of the other GOP candidate, Patsy Hazelwood, indicating she did not answer the questionnaire.
According to Hazlewood's campaign she sent the NRA a statement saying, "I support the 2nd Amendment fully & have consistently noted my pledge to uphold both the TN and US Constitutions."
She also said "current law does not impede the right to carry a weapon" and that the "important issues" she hears from voters in door-to-door campaign are about " job creation within our community" and "concerns [about] schools yielding an educated workforce.
"My vote in Nashville will never be opposing the 2nd amendment rights of citizens."
Crangle said in a news release that voters "should have little doubt that, as their state representative, I will stand up to federal or state officials who have designs on limiting these God-given rights."
And in the state House District 31 GOP primary rematch between Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, and former Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, Travis was given an "A" rating while Cobb received a "B."
With early voting in full swing, the tempo continued to accelerate and that includes the state Supreme Court retention election.
In the latest salvo, retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Mickey Barker of Signal Mountain charges in a new television ad that "out-of-state interests are trying to take over our Supreme Court."
"Although I'm a Republican, politics has no place in our courts," Barker says in the 30-second spot ad paid for by Keep Our Courts Fair, the coordinated campaign of Supreme Court Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade.
"But now," Barker adds, "out-of-state special interests are trying to take over our Supreme Court. I know Justice Clark, Lee and Wade, and they have served with distinction upholding our constitution, protecting individual rights, and upholding nearly 90 percent of death sentences."
A number of Republicans led by state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey have launched an effort to oust the three justices, all Democrats.
Over the weekend, one of the groups, the Tennessee Forum, launched an its own ad attacking the justices and charging they have been "liberal" on crime. Court defenders say the ad is false.
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550.