The Washington Times - December 16, 2009, 05:05PM

A 2006 endorsement and robocall from the Brady Campaign isn’t the kind of thing Republican Danny Tarkanian wants coming up in his 2010 bid to unseat Nevada’s senior Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat who won an endorsement from the National Rifle Association in his last election.

But Mr. Tarkanian has only one person to blame: his mom.


The Tarkanian campaign initially dismissed questions about the little-noticed 2006 Brady Campaign endorsement Mr. Tarkanian received in his unsuccessful race for secretary of state in 2006. (PDF HERE.) The Brady Campaign also recorded robocalls urging Nevada voters to support him. (Audio HERE and transcribed below). Tarkanian Campaign Manager James Fisfis suggested it was a dirty campaign tactic meant to discredit Mr. Tarkanian’s support for gun rights because, as he told The Washington Times, “a Brady call in Nevada is not a positive call.”

Mr. Tarkanian “is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and has never reached out to the Brady Campaign,” Mr. Fisfis said. He said later that Dan Burdish, a consultant who now works for their Republican primary opponent Sue Lowden, had “freelanced” by making arrangements for the call without Mr. Tarkanian’s knowledge.

Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke also confirmed that Mr. Burdish, then an unpaid adviser for Mr. Tarkanian, had worked with them, even asking Mrs. Brady’s mispronunciation of “Nevada” be edited out of the call. But, Mr. Helmke said, “We weren’t doing this on our own — we were asked to do it by somebody who was with the campaign — and they even went so far to edit the robocall.”

When reached by phone, however, Mr. Burdish, now Mrs. Lowden’s political director, said Mr. Tarkanian’s mother had asked him to work with the Brady Campaign on the endorsement. “Lois Tarkanian, who is Danny’s mother, came up with everything,” he said. “Danny, as far as I know, knew nothing about it… . Lois contacted me asking if I would help her.”

The Lowden campaign, which is eager to draw attention to this issue, said Nevada voters need more information about the endorsement and Mr. Tarkanian’s involvement.

“Nevada is a very pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment state, and I think voters have every right to pin Danny Tarkanian down on his past campaign coordination with the Brady Campaign and what it means today,” said Lowden Campaign Manager Robert Utihoven.

Team Tarkanian, for their part, intends to keep stressing their support for guns, which may include a moose hunt down the road.

“Danny’s record is public, you can read his Web site and look at his positions, and this whole thing is just unfortunate,” Mr. Fisfis said. He added that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s father, Charles R. Heath, had been campaigning on behalf of Mr. Tarkanian and agreed to take him moose hunting as a way of burnishing Mr. Tarkanian’s commitment to gun rights.

“Our family’s love for moose-hunting is well-known,” said Mr. Heath and his son Charles, who is Mrs. Palin’s brother, in a statement passed to The Washington Times from Mr. Fisfis. “One of the reasons our family campaigned for Danny Tarkanian is his strong commitment to protecting the Constitutional rights of gun owners. If we can drag Danny off the campaign trail we’re going to go hunting together.”

SCRIPT: “Hi, this is Sarah Brady from the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence. We want assault weapons off streets. Ross Miller, who is running for secretary of state, opposes that even though one was used to kill a Las Vegas policeman in February. I’m asking you to vote for Danny Tarkanian for secretary of state. He supports common sense gun laws like the ban on military-style assault weapons. Thanks for your time.