Gun control is only officially on the ballot in a couple of states, but there are still a lot of races that could prove critically important to the political and legal fights over our Second Amendment rights in this year’s midterms, and on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’re previewing a few of the races to watch on Tuesday night as returns start to flow in.
First up is New York, where Gov. Kathy Hochul is currently leading Republican challenger Lee Zeldin by six points in the RealClearPolitics polling average. Democrats have become increasingly freaked out about the possibility of Hochul losing, despite the fact that they outnumber Republicans by more than 2-1 in the state. Joe Biden even made a last minute campaign stop for Hochul over the weekend, though his declaration that there would be “no more drilling” probably won’t help Hochul with New Yorkers fed up over the rising price of fuel. Still, the Democrats’ advantage with registered voters gives them the edge in statewide races (though a Zeldin win is still very much a possibility), but don’t be surprised to see stronger-than-normal turnout in upstate New York that results in at least one Democrat-held congressional seat flipping to Republican control.
We’ll also be watching the North Carolina state legislative races, where Republicans could gain a veto-proof majority with just a handful of gains in the state House and Senate. If that happens, expect the state’s Jim Crow-era “permit-to-purchase” law to be repealed in early 2023. A similar repeal bill passed last year but was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper, and Republicans have vowed to renew their efforts in the next session.
I’m also keeping an eye on the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire, where Democrat Maggie Hassan was widely expected to cruise to re-election as recently as last month. Since then, however, Republican Don Bolduc has been gaining in the polls, and currently trails Hassan by a single point in the RCP polling average. If Bolduc ends up victorious, it could be a bellweather for other endangered Democrats like Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada and Patty Murray in Washington State.
The gubernatorial races in Georgia, Texas, and Ohio will be fun to watch; not because the pro-2A candidates are in any trouble, but because they’re all expected to clobber their Democratic opponents. According to anti-gun activists, this is the year that Democrats will prove it’s safe to talk about gun control, but candidates like Stacey Abrams, Nan Whaley, and Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke are all expected to be handily defeated despite making gun control a centerpiece of their campaigns and the fact that their opponents have all signed permitless carry bills into law. In fact, the only governor who signed a permitless carry bill who appears to be in any trouble of winning re-election is Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, but his campaign woes are unrelated to his support for the Second Amendment. Still, former-Republican-turned-Democrat Joy Hofmeister is running in support of raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, universal background checks, and a three-day waiting period for all gun sales, and if she pulls off the upset victory gun control activists will be quick to take credit.
In neighboring New Mexico it’s Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham who’s facing a tougher-than-expected re-election campaign. After cruising to victory by 14 points just four years ago, Grisham is now playing defense against Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti. In the RCP average Grisham is ahead by four points, but her margins have declined dramatically over the past couple of weeks and Ronchetti has built up a lot of momentum heading into Election Day by focusing on crime and public safety.
Then there are the two ballot initiatives in Iowa and Oregon. Iowa’s measure would enshrine the right to keep and bear arms into the state constitution, and the only real question seems to be the margin of victory for the amendment. The one poll of the ballot measure indicated about 60% of the electorate was in favor, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the final total is even higher.
Oregon’s Measure 114, on the other hand, is likely to be nail-biter. The ballot measure would not only create a new criminal offense out of possessing a “large capacity” magazine in most circumstances, it would impose a “permit-to-purchase” scheme that sticks law enforcement with tens of millions of dollars in unfunded mandates while forcing would-be legal gun owners to fork out big bucks in order to meet the mandatory fees and training requirements before they can own a pistol. With the most recent polling showing opposition edging ahead of support, the results for Measure 114 could be a political earthquake for the gun control movement.
If the measure does go down to defeat, it will be in large part because of the broad coalition that’s coalesced in opposition to the ballot measure; traditional Second Amendment groups like the Oregon Firearms Federation, county sheriffs and other law enforcement officers, and progressive gun owners like Graham Parks; a Democrat who serves on the state’s Central Committee as well as the Oregon Democratic Party’s Gun Owners’ Caucus.
The arguments from Measure 114 backers that the initiative would crack down on criminals and not legal gun owners aren’t resonating with many progressives he speaks with, according to Parks, who tells Bearing Arms, “Marking off a peaceable (if politically annoying) group of people as ‘criminals’ by redefining legal ownership of some item they commonly possess as a crime, and then sending the cops out to hoover them up, makes you ‘tough on crime’ in the same way flying out to shoot at penned, hand-raised animals makes you an accomplished hunter. ”
Those of us on the East Coast likely won’t learn the final results of the Oregon elections until early Wednesday morning at the earliest, and Measure 114 could even end up going to a recount. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Measure 114 will go down to defeat, but it’s already a certainty that Measure 114 isn’t going to pass with the 80%, 90%, or 97% support that gun control activists routinely claim to have for their “reasonable” infringements on the right to keep and bear arms.
We’ll have extensive coverage on these and other races here at Bearing Arms throughout the week, taking a look not only at the election results but the impact that they’ll have on our Second Amendment rights in the coming months. And no matter how confident (or despondent) you or I might feel about any particular race, it’s absolutely incumbent on us to go and cast our vote like our rights depend on it, because they do.