Tim Neville, a Republican state senator from Littleton who’s running for the U.S. Senate, has a sure-fire way to entice voters to bolster his bid in the March 1 caucuses: Those who pledge to support him will enter a contest for a sparkling new Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport AR-15 military-style assault rifle.
“Of course, I know the anti-gun media may hate it,” Neville wrote in a Valentine’s Day fundraising e-mail about the giveaway. “And I know the political talking heads may sneer as they continue blaming guns and law-abiding gun owners for the acts of thugs and madmen.”
But, Neville continues, “I am THE pro-gun, pro-Constitution candidate in this race for U.S. Senate — and I can’t think of a better way to get that word out before March 1st than by giving away a brand new AR-15.”
Gun giveaways are nothing new to contemporary political campaigns, especially ones for the U.S. Senate. It might even be turning into a tradition for a certain type of conservative candidate. Just look at the language in Neville’s fundraising e-mail. Some text from it is exactly the same as one from the 2014 U.S. Senate campaign of Lee Bright in South Carolina who was running in a six-way Republican primary against Lindsey Graham.
What did Bright say to voters when raffling off his own AR-15?
“I know the anti-gun media may hate it. I know the political talking heads may sneer as they continue blaming guns and law-abiding gun owners for the acts of thugs and madmen. But I am THE pro-gun, pro-Constitution candidate in this race for the U.S. Senate — and I can’t think of a better way to get that word out than by giving away a brand new AR-15.”
Out on the presidential campaign trail, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is raffling off a shotgun with his campaign logo engraved on the butt.
Neville, currently a sitting state senator, is running in the crowded and unusual Republican primary for U.S. Senate this year in hopes to take on Colorado’s Senior Democratic U.S. Senator, Michael Bennet, in the fall.
While Neville might have used the same copy as a South Carolina candidate’s AR-15 fundraising e-mail, there’s really no question he’s “THE pro-gun” candidate in the Colorado race. This year the state senator has introduced three bills to make it easier to carry firearms and allow them to hold more rounds, among others. His son was a lobbyist for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hardcore pro-Second Amendment outfit based out of Windsor. The no-compromise gun group has previously come under fire from gun rights advocate Dave Kopel of the libertarian Independence Institute who said RMGO’s habit championing doomed-to-fail, no-compromise bills has created “an impressive record of futility.”
But the group still has political muscle, especially among the kinds of grassroots activists who show up to caucuses. In the U.S. Senate race, as some candidates choose go the signature-gathering petition route to get on the 2016 primary ballot in June this year, Neville says he’ll go through the caucus system.
To do so, he hopes to raise $125,000 in order to “run the type of grassroots program it’s going to take to finish strong on March 1st,” he wrote in his fundraising e-mail. Right now he’s only raised a little more than half of that. Hence, “to help get the word out about my campaign I’m holding a ‘March 1st Precinct Caucus AR-15 Giveaway.'”
[Photo credit Robert Freiberger vie Flickr]