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NRA Backing Wrong Horse in California—Why?

by David Codrea

February 22, 2002 — The National Rifle Association has endorsed Bill Jones for California governor, despite recent polls showing Bill Simon is overwhelmingly supported by California conservatives and in a virtual dead heat with Richard Riordan among likely voters. This will have the effect of pitting NRA members against conservative voters in the primary, splitting the vote to the advantage of Riordan — a confirmed anti-defense zealot who favors banning handguns from all but "the authorities," who equates "assault weapons" with "intolerance," and who has gone so far as to call for police sweeps to round up citizen-owned guns.

Gun Owners of California has endorsed Bill Simon — which means that now, gun owners are split among themselves. We clearly can't even win the dogcatchership divided like this.

As GOC Executive Director Sam Paredes correctly points out, while Jones did, indeed, have a good voting record on guns during his time in the assembly:

"BILL SIMON is by far the best equipped person to do this. He has the principles, and he has the cash. Bill Jones is a good fellow, but his candidacy stops there. And we simply cannot afford to 'stop there' based on a good voting record on guns while he served in the Assembly."

Jones is running far behind, solidly in third place among the 3 GOP contenders. It makes no sense to back his candidacy when he is so clearly not in the running — and will only take votes and support away from Simon, ensuring a Riordan victory.

This cannot be what NRA wants, can it? Do they really want to mobilize their grassroots activists to pour time and treasure into a lost cause when a better candidate, and one who believes in the Second Amendment, offers California its best political option for halting unceasing attacks on the right to keep and bear arms by a legislature which will certainly remain dominated by Democrats? We clearly need someone with veto power in Sacramento, and that someone, whether you like the guy or not, will NOT be Bill Jones.

I urge you to read the complete GOC endorsement for Bill Simon at:

Let's not split gun owners from the majority of California conservatives — because if Riordan wins the primary, we will truly have NO CHOICE for governor. Bill Simon stands a chance against Riordan, who recognizes this fact; he has begun running attack ads against Simon, but not Jones, because he and his professional advisors know where the true challenge to his campaign lies. Ask yourself why he would do that, and the answer becomes obvious: the former candidate represents a threat; the latter is too insignificant to acknowledge. Now reconcile this conclusion against NRA's support for Jones.

Bill Simon is the ONLY candidate who can unite conservatives and gun owners, the ONLY one who can beat Riordan. Already impressively financed and statistically within striking distance of the notoriously anti-gun Gray Davis in the polls, the addition of the Jones faction would make him a formidable contender in the general election, especially with the coalition he could form between gun owners, tax groups, education reformers, and just about everyone else in the party who is not an elitist RINO (Republican In Name Only).

NRA should praise Jones for his past correct gun votes and wish him well, but then throw its considerable machine behind Simon. To do anything else is beyond foolish — it is a guarantee for disaster, and the politically-savvy NRA grassroots leadership must know this.

In the absence of information which would render Simon incapable of pursuing the governorship, NRA's position is inexplicable, and contradicts their stated goals of ELECTING (not just supporting, which feels good but can work against us) pro-gun candidates. Members who follow their ill-conceived endorsement need to ask themselves, do they really want to follow lemming-like over an obvious and wholly-avoidable cliff, or do they want to investigate the facts for themselves, and come to the only conclusion possible: Bill Simon is the only hope California gun owners have for the governor's race. Listening to NRA and supporting Bill Jones will leave them hopeless.



California gun owners who agree with these positions must make their views known to NRA. I urge you to visit the California NRA Members Councils homepage at:, see the Bill Jones banner ad on their page for yourself, and then contact NRA HQ at: and make your views known, including about their expenditure of needed "Political Victory Fund" monies on this divisive, losing and unnecessary waste of grassroots resources.

David Codrea is a co-founder and director for the national pro-rights media campaign, Citizens of America (, and an advisor and contributor for His professional writing is featured often in Guns and Ammo magazine. Additionally, he is the national coordinator for A Petition for the Enforcement of the Second Amendment ( His archives can be accessed here: