Today is the day: if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to vote in the midterm elections. There are many toss-up races this year in what is perhaps the most important midterm election in modern history. With record turnout across the country, no one is totally sure what will happen. What we do know is that huge issues — issues of justice, like climate change and gun control — are on the ballot.
It’s not really a secret that, in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead, Gen Z has come out in droves to protest Congress’s lack of action on gun control. Students like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg quickly rose to the occasion in the midst of tragedy to organize marches, voter drives, and sophisticated social media campaigns that targeted the likes of President Donald Trump, National Rifle Association, and their shared refusal to do anything meaningful to stop mass shootings.
And the Parkland kids have surprised us all by doing one thing: not letting their tragedy fade from American consciousness. In fact, youth voter registration went up 41 percent in Florida after these kids started demanding action. In fact, we know that the NRA is running scared — they’ve started to taunt a bunch of high schoolers who survived a mass shooting.
Depending on where you live, today may very well be your chance to make a difference when it comes to gun control. In order to help you figure out how to do that, here’s a round-up of all the toss-up races in which one candidate has an A rating (or better) from the NRA.
A note on NRA ratings: We chose to focus on NRA ratings because the pro-gun nonprofit and lobbying group has outsized power on Capitol Hill. Through their Political Victory Fund — their Political Action Committee — the NRA not only doles out direct donations to politicians who are likely to vote their agenda, but they do massive ad buys (sometimes as high as seven figures) in hotly contested races. And the NRA-PVF releases ratings every year, based on a questionnaire, wherein politicians are graded from A+ to F based on their gun control policies. It’s the simplest way for us to determine what politicians will vote for gun control measures, and what politicians will continue with “thoughts and prayers.”
Further, because there are so many significant House races this year, we can’t highlight them all. Instead, we suggest you go to the NRA-PVF’s Grades and Endorsements page and look up the races in your district to see who has a high rating.
Ted Cruz, Texas
Cruz was first elected to the Senate in 2012; he’s running against House Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Are you really surprised that Cruz is on here? You shouldn’t be. The sitting Senator is often at the forefront of the “thoughts and prayers” brigade after any given mass shooting and similarly claims shootings shouldn’t be politicized. Totally, 100 percent coincidentally, he has an A+ rating from the NRA and frequently receives massive campaign contributions from them. In 2012 alone, the NRA spent $65,300 on Cruz while donating $11,000 directly to his campaign; in 2013, Cruz received a direct donation of $9,900; Cruz has also received a direct donation of $9,900 from the gun lobbyists for the 2018 election cycle.
Dean Heller, Nevada
Heller was appointed to Senate in 2011 and then elected to a full-term in 2012; he’s running against House Rep. Jacky Rosen.
The incumbent Senator received an A from the NRA. His race with opponent Jacky Rosen is tight enough that the NRA is also tweeting support for him.
Kevin Cramer, North Dakota
Cramer is currently a House Rep. for North Dakota’s at-large district; he’s running against incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
Cramer has not only been endorsed by the NRA, but as a House Rep he also has an A rating.
Josh Hawley, Missouri
Hawley is the Missouri Attorney General; he’s running against incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill.
He has been endorsed by the NRA, and he has an A rating, of which he’s very proud.
Matt Rosendale, Montana
Rosendale is the State Auditor for Montana; he’s running against incumbent Senator Jon Tester.
Rick Scott, Florida
Scott is the Governor of Florida; he’s running against incumbent Senator Bill Nelson.
Scott has an A+ from the NRA. He signed a “compromise” bill which “approved a three-day waiting period for the purchase of all firearms and raising the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21” this past March—after the Parkland shooting. That said, there’s a reason he’s an A+ student: as governor, he lifted purchasing restrictions, opposed stricter background checks, lowered the price of concealed carry permits, and expanded Florida’s “stand your ground” law (the very same that George Zimmerman used as a defense when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin).
Mike Braun, Indiana
Braun was a State Rep. for Indiana’s 63rd district from 2014 through 2017; he’s running against incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly.
Braun has been endorsed by the NRA. Unsurprising, given that Braun himself is a member of the organization.
Martha McSally, Arizona
McSally is currently a House Rep. for Arizona’s 2nd district; she’s running against Democratic House Rep. Krysten Synema.
McSally has been endorsed by the NRA several times. She has an A rating, and, according to Politico, the NRA spent $77,063 on her 2016 reelection campaign.
Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee
Blackburn is a House Rep. for Tennessee’s 7th District; she’s running against former Governor of Tennessee Phil Bredesen.
The NRA has not only given Blackburn an A rating, they’re campaigning hard for her, as this seat, vacated by incumbent Bob Corker, is key to holding a Republican majority in the Senate.
Ron DeSantis, Florida
DeSantis served in the House of Representatives until September 2018; he’s running against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
When he was in the House, DeSantis “only” received an A rating from the NRA (compared to the A+ his primary opponent received). Once he won the primary, however, the NRA heartily endorsed him.
Brian Kemp, Georgia
Kemp is Georgia’s Secretary of State; he’s running against former Georgia House Rep. Stacey Abrams.
When asked about gun control policies at a campaign event in March, Kemp said, “I don’t think that’s the answer. The answer is we got a lot of crazy people that have been shooting our kids up, and that’s very disturbing, and I think we need to partner and work with our local school systems to address school security.”
The NRA has endorsed him and is campaigning on his behalf using his A rating.
Steve Pearce, New Mexico
Pearce is currently the House Rep. for New Mexico’s 2nd district; he’s running against House Rep. Michelle Lynn Lujan Grisham.
Pearce supports concealed carry on school campuses. He has stated in the past that he does not believe restricting access to firearms will prevent violence, but rather increasing security at schools will. He has an A rating from the NRA.
Shawn Moody, Maine
Moody is an entrepreneur who ran for governor as an independent in 2010; he’s running against current Maine Attorney General Janet Mills.
Moody received an AQ rating, which means that he supports the NRA’s agenda, but that he does not have a voting record yet.
Janet Mills, Maine
Maine is a very gun-friendly state, but we were still surprised to find that the Democrat has received an A+ from the NRA from her time in the Maine House of Representatives. She’s one of the few Dems who hasn’t “flunked” the NRA’s questionnaire.
Adam Laxalt, Nevada
Laxalt is Nevada’s Attorney General; he’s running against Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak.
Laxalt has an A+ rating. He even spoke at their annual Leadership Forum in 2017.
Chris Sununu, New Hampshire
Sununu is the sitting Governor of New Hampshire; he’s running against former State House Rep. Molly Kelly.
Sununu has an A rating, and the NRA gets very! excited! about him, because he supported permitless carry in 2017.
Mike DeWine, Ohio
DeWine is Ohio’s Attorney General; he’s running against former Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray.
DeWine supports “enhanced background checks” and putting mental health personnel in schools. He’s been endorsed by the NRA.
Mike Dunleavy, Alaska
Dunleavy was a State Senator until 2018, when he resigned to focus on his gubernatorial campaign; he’s running against State Senator Mark Begich.
Dunleavy has an A rating and an endorsement from the NRA. He co-sponsored a bill that would eliminate gun-free zones.