It seems like every year, we have at least one election right here in our own backyards that was determined by a razor-thin margin that reminds us how just a handful of voters who turned up to the polls decided a race that will impact the lives of all Pennsylvania residents for at least two years.
On gun rights, this can be the difference between moving forward and playing defense. Gun owners had way too many close calls in the legislature this year to feel comfortable in 2014.
The highest profile close race for gun owners is in the House District 39 with A+-rated Rep. Rick Saccone being targeted by anti-gun groups with former Rep. David Levdansky. Levdansky, F-rated by the NRA, was a key ally and leader for anti-Second Amendment legislation when he was in office, despite his claims to be a sportsman. He spent his time as a state lawmaker encouraging local communities to pass gun control ordinances that violate state preemption laws. According to sources, he has previously been unwilling to even acknowledge the Second Amendment:
For example, at a Game and Fish Committee hearing in 1986 in Clarion, PA, Levdansky said:
â€œinsofar as the constitutional question of the right to keep and bear arms is concerned, I think that that argument is rather hollow and shallow . . . At best, I think that the right to bear arms argument is nothing more than rightwing, ideological rhetoric and ought to be dismissed as suchâ€.
Rep. Saccone appears – for now – to be the winner of an incredibly tight race that was, at one point, a narrow 36-vote win. With all ballots now counted, Rep. Saccone appears to have managed a slightly wider, but still unbelievably tight, 114-vote lead. Whether this margin holds after ballots are challenged by Democrats remains to be seen.
In this race, NRA A- rated incumbent Rep. Justin Simmons has a 448-vote lead over opponent Kevin Deely who refused to even answer simple policy questions from gun owners. The margin doesn’t trigger a recount, and it would seem solid enough to warrant a concession. However, the challenger has so far refused to concede and started soliciting money to supposedly fund a recount. It just goes to show that while this race wasn’t decided by a handful of votes, the certainty of the outcome is still not finalized because the margin of win for the Second Amendment wasn’t higher.
Rep. Nick Micozzie, rated A- by NRA, managed to hang on to his seat by a closer 354-vote margin over challenger Sheamus Bonner who also refused to answer questions about his views on Second Amendment policies from gun owners. The election remained uncalled for days while votes were tallied, and the closeness of this race may be a signal for more anti-rights candidates to try running for this seat in the future.
Unfortunately, this race decided by just 216 votes didn’t go in our favor. Rep. Tom Quigley, with his A grade from NRA, was narrowly defeated by D-rated Mark Painter who was touted by anti-gun groups.
No other races were as close as these seats, though many were within only a 1-3 point margin. Expect all of these seats so narrowly lost by anti-rights candidates to be challenged again in the next election. With the next election, of course, comes the gubernatorial race. NRA A-rated Tom Corbett who signed Castle Doctrine has signaled that he will run for re-election. On the Democratic side, we’ve seen names floated that include F-rated Joe Sestak, Mike Bloomberg’s gun control ally Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, State Treasurer Rob McCord who did not return NRA’s questionnaire this year, and previously D-rated former Rep. Josh Shapiro who now serves as a Montgomery County Commissioner. There are also a few names we’ve seen dropped that do not have records on issues impacting gun owners.
Regardless of the exact make-up of the ticket, it does mean that nearly as many resources will be spent on voter turnout since 2014 isn’t really an off-year election for us in Pennsylvania as much as it is in many parts of the country. That will impact down-ticket races that came so close this year.