- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito picked up a National Rifle Association endorsement in the race for U.S. Senate in West Virginia, the gun rights group announced Wednesday.

The endorsement is a coup in West Virginia, where hunting and gun rights are so popular that the Democrat in the race responded to the NRA endorsement by trying to one-up Ms. Capito on her own support for gun culture rather than, as would happen in much of the country, dismissing the NRA as extremists with blood on their hands.

The NRA’s political action arm cited its “A” rating for the Republican congresswoman’s voting record on firearms issues and called her “solidly pro-gun.”

Shelley has consistently fought to preserve and improve self-defense laws, gun rights and our hunting heritage for West Virginians and all Americans,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA’s political action committee.

“She will strongly oppose any attempt by President Obama and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to restrict their freedom.”

The Capito campaign used the endorsement to slam her Democratic opponent, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, saying her “alleged ‘support’ of the Second Amendment misses the mark.”

“The outcome of this election is critical to preserving our Second Amendment freedom, and I promise that no one is going to fight harder for our constitutional rights,” Ms. Capito said. “While others talk the talk, I walk the walk. I’m humbled and honored that the National Rifle Association is supporting me.”

The West Virginia race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV is one of three seats Republicans expect to easily pick up in November. The GOP needs a net gain of six seats to win majority control of the Senate this year.

Ms. Capito leads Ms. Tennant by 19 points, according to the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls in the state.

The Tennant campaign responded by challenging Ms. Capito’s gun ownership bona fides.

“West Virginia gun owners are putting their trust in Natalie Tennant, because they know that while Congresswoman Capito is more likely to be seen carrying a tennis racket than a gun, Natalie Tennant actually holds a concealed carry permit and grew up shooting guns her whole life, just like them,” said Tennant spokeswoman Jennifer Donohue.

She slammed Ms. Capito for backing gun control measures, including raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21.

Ms. Tennant’s campaign also touted her “A” grade from the NRA in 2012 and her making history as the first woman to be the West Virginia University Mountaineers mascot, the costume for which included a muzzleloader.

“She owns an exact replica of the Mountaineer muzzleloader today, which she proudly displays above her desk in the secretary of state’s office when she isn’t carrying it at fairs and festivals,” the Tennant campaign said in a statement.

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