More unseemly eagerness in Thursday’s New York Times to use the tragic murders in Parkland to help Democrats gain Congress, while weakening constitutional rights. Reporter Alan Blinder went to Helena, Montana searching out “red state” voters willing to reject the “iron rule” of supporting the National Rifle Association (terminology the paper would not apply to “blue state” voters and say, teachers’ unions) in “In Reddest, Rural Districts, Democratic Candidates Defying the N.R.A":
It has been an iron rule for candidates in rural areas and red states for decades: Do not antagonize the National Rifle Association.
But that was before the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla., galvanized gun politics across the country. Now, a striking number of Democratic candidates in coming midterm elections, from congressional contests in the Rocky Mountains to governor’s races in the Deep South, are openly daring, defying and disparaging the N.R.A., a group with deep pockets, a loyal membership and a record of Election Day score-settling.
Those Democrats, but also a few Republicans, believe that in the wake of Parkland, many voters have been turned off by the N.R.A.’s hard line, its belligerence and its demands for lock-step loyalty from elected officials. Together, they are testing whether that iron rule for electoral survival and success across rural America still holds.
Blinder went along with the Democratic Party’s cynical use of the murders for political gain:
Attacking the N.R.A., which claims a membership of nearly 5 million, in even a muted tone is a political gamble. Yet Democrats say they feel emboldened by the groundswell of outrage over gun violence after the Feb. 14 attack in Florida, which left 17 people dead. And they are encouraged by polls showing that measures like universal background checks and age restrictions for gun buyers are widely popular.
....many Democrats have grown wary of an organization that they believe has effectively evolved into an extension of the Republican Party, and they have begun to wonder whether they would be better off putting some distance between themselves and the N.R.A. The most fervent supporters of gun rights, some Democrats reason, are unlikely to support their campaigns no matter what they do.
While some red-state Democrats take on the National Rifle Association, others are treading more warily. Grant Kier, a Democrat running for Montana’s House seat, said he sees health care, not gun safety, as the dominant issue in the race. He chatted with voters on Sunday at the Ten Mile Creek Brewery in Helena. Credit Lynn Donaldson for The New York Times
Of course, Democrats (and The Times) see an opportunity.
Some Republicans have also calculated that they can now afford to cross the group to some extent. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, who is running for the Senate this year, recently signed a Republican-backed gun-control package that was almost immediately challenged in a lawsuit by the N.R.A.
The mass shooting in Parkland, which helped prompt the legislation Mr. Scott signed, appears to have been a political turning point even in places like Montana....
Blinder visited a reddish state, North Carolina, during the great bathroom debate of 2016 and tried to tar Republicans there for bigotry against transgenders.