David Keene Takes the NRA Down the Wrong Path

Update: Maybe the NRA got there on its own. Keene is actually no longer President of the NRA. My mistake.



NRA and former American Conservative Union President David Keene has done it again and this time taken the NRA with him. He has a terrible, embarrassing record of endorsements.

His latest embarrassment is, as President of the NRA, endorsing Mike Simpson for Congress in Idaho’s second Congressional District. This is absolutely shameful for a few reasons: not only is Bryan Smith, Mike Simpson’s far more conservative primary challenger and great on the gun issue, but Mike Simpson isn’t. From The Hill on June 2, 1999:

When word got out last week that Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) supports the sale of trigger locks with handguns, fuming constituents deluged his four Idaho and Washington offices. “Well, they’re a little upset,” said Simpson, who spent much of his Memorial Day weekend explaining himself to constituents who grow fearful of anyone — particularly the federal government — coming near their guns. “They think it’s gun control,” he said. “They saw it as the camel’s nose under the tent. They expressed their concern that I’ve swallowed the line of the gun control advocates — that I’ve left the reservation, if you will… Simpson, who first voiced his views on the subject on a Boise radio show two weeks ago, said what he supports is not gun control, as people might think, but rather gun safety. His stance strays from the rest of the Idaho congressional delegation which vehemently opposes the mandatory sale of trigger locks with handguns. “I think it’s a commonsense move,” said Simpson. “I can separate the issue of gun control . . . from the issue of gun safety.”


I give the NRA a pass on this one, but they should have known better. David Keene has a long track record of opposing conservative candidates in Republican primaries, most notoriously when he supported Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey. Arlen Specter went on to win by less than 1% of the vote, switch parties and vote for Obama’s stimulus and cast the deciding vote for ObamaCare. Thanks to David Keene and other wayward Republicans.

Just last cycle, David Keene endorsed Tommy Thompson for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, who literally supported ObamaCare and was probably one of the biggest liberal Republicans running for Senate last year (Thanks again to my friends at the Club for Growth for unearthing this excellent video of Thompson endorsing the individual mandate).

Mike Simpson isn’t just your run of the mill squishy Republican either. He’s bad on basically everything important to the conservative movement. He opposed a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Idaho, is bad on guns, once said he has “a tendency to lean toward the pro-choice side of the argument,” voted for the Wall Street bailout, wants to go back to earmarks, broke his no-new-taxes-pledge, and is best buddies with John Boehner.

Let me repeat, for the record: David Keene consistently makes bad endorsements. When he pops his head up to make an endorsement, it’s often for the liberal. He’s a former corporate lobbyist. And his decisions within the conservative movement while head of the ACU were often oddball too. Let’s not forget siding with unions against the free market in a situation some looked at as “pay to play.”


I just donated $25 to Bryan Smith — the actual pro-second amendment conservative in Idaho who has a better record on guns than Mike Simpson. Hell, Bryan Smith has a better record on everything than Mike Simpson. Of course, that makes it no surprise David Keene would not support him.


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