From A-plus to F, NRA grades Florida candidates in primary
The National Rifle Association has posted all of its Florida candidate endorsements in advance of the statewide primary election on August 30. An A-plus rating from the NRA is its highest grade, and is a highly coveted commodity for many candidates for the state House and Senate, especially when it includes an NRA endorsement that candidates can feature in literature and TV ads.
NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said the grades have been online since July 27, but she continues to get calls from candidates, consultants and news outlets asking about the grades, all of which can be found here.
The NRA's Political Victory Fund sometimes must make close calls in races where more than one candidate has consistently supported its pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment agenda. A case in point is the race for Senate District 12 where Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, and Rep. Marlene O'Toole, R-Lady Lake, are battling for an open seat in a strongly Republican district that includes a self-funded newcomer, David Gee of The Villages. Baxley has an A-plus NRA rating -- and its endorsement -- and O'Toole has an A, while Gee got an A based solely on his answers in an NRA candidate questionnaire.
In another open Senate seat in southwest Florida, the NRA gave Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, an A-plus and Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, an A, but the web site lists no endorsement of Hudson.
"It's not unusual for us to sit out a race where we've got two legislators who have been strong on our issues," Hammer said. "We don't give out A's like peppermint sticks in a candy store."
Conversely, many Democratic candidates covet an F rating from the NRA as proof of their independence from the group's political agenda.
Here are some Democrats in closely contested races who did not get the worst possible rating from the NRA and where at least one opponent got a lower grade.
Senate candidate and Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, got a C-plus; former Rep. and Senate candidate Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, B-plus; Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, D-plus; Senate candidate Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, D-plus; and former Rep. and Senate candidate Jim Waldman, D-Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, D.