March 6, 2002
KeepAndBearArms.com — In a stunning upset that defied conventional
political wisdom, businessman Bill Simon
soundly beat expected frontrunner, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan 49.4% to
31.4% in the GOP's California gubernatorial primary. NRA's
endorsed candidate, Secretary of State Bill Jones, finished third with 17.0%
of the vote. (For final tallies on all candidates and other stats, go here: http://vote2002.ss.ca.gov/Returns/gov/00.htm.)
The race, projected as a dead heat between Simon and Riordan in the polls
preceding the election, was the subject of four stories on KeepAndBearArms.com,
was seen as a potential spoiler who would draw votes away from the
conservative Simon, with a strong chance of handing the primary to the anti-gun
Riordan. That this did not happen can be credited in part to gun owners not
following NRA's recommendation and voting for Simon instead — in fact,
KeepAndBearArms.com reported that, after its stories posted and generated
interest on Internet mail lists, a prominent Southern California Members Council
ranks with NRA management over their Jones endorsement, and recruited
grassroots support for their candidate's rival, Simon.
KABA urged NRA to back Simon, to ask Jones to release them from their
endorsement. We looked at the polls and it clearly made no sense to continue
backing someone who could not win. That's when we decided to plead with Jones to
step down, to not split the conservative vote in favor of Riordan.
We made it clear that our main interest was to get
a horse in the governor's race. Had that horse been Jones, we would have
just as strongly urged Simon to step away. But the numbers approaching the
it clear that Jones was not a contender — and with Riordan's projected
strength, he could have very well been a spoiler.
We commended NRA on wanting to stay loyal to its preferred candidate, but we
also reminded them that their first loyalty necessarily had to be to their
members' Second Amendment rights — and to gamble with these was irresponsible.
That NRA political coordinators could be so out of touch with the majority of
California conservatives, including gun owners and their own membership, prompts
speculation as to their future effectiveness in California politics. Clearly,
when they can't even marshal their own contacts to support their chosen
candidate, something must change if they wish to appear a credible force in the
state. That the much smaller Gun Owners of
California and a 2-year-old internet-based
organization should be more in touch with gun owners than the mighty NRA
should be a wakeup call to the beltway managers — and a clear warning that
relevance does not come from centralized control, but from being receptive to,
in touch with and empowering of the principled will of activist gun owners.
"Not invented here" no longer works, NRA management. We now have a
shot for the governor's race — no thanks to you.
We look forward to NRA support for Bill Simon in the upcoming race. We also
hope they understand that they do not hold a monopoly on political credibility
any more — grassroots activists and a solid candidate have done it without
them and even in spite of their opposition. They will not have exclusive access
to the candidate they refused to back, nor will they be the only voice he hears.
Support Bill Simon for governor of the
State of California.