The Democratic Party is already hard at work planning for the distant 2014 Senatorial race. The Party is taking a tactical hit by selecting pro-gun candidates in key states.
In Montana, Senator Max Baucus (D) is retiring. The Democrats are putting their hopes into former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Schweitzer is famous for keeping a gun mounted on his office wall despite a ban on all firearms in the state Capitol. When asked how many guns Schweitzer owned, he responded, “None of your damn business” – a line that speaks to the heart of gun rights advocates.
Senator Tim Johnson (D) is retiring in the neighboring state of South Dakota. There, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is a favorite to run. Sandlin isn’t quite as outspoken as Schweitzer, but she does hold an “A” rating from the NRA.
The Democrats are clearly picking and choosing their fights. The political party can continue to fight for stricter gun control at a federal level while appeasing pro-gun voters in Montana and South Dakota.
The strategy probably won’t win the Democrats any electoral votes when the next presidential election rolls around. Montana and South Dakota aren’t exactly swing states – both went red in favor of Romney during the last presidential election.
During the Obama-McCain race, however, McCain won Montana with a margin of victory of less than six percentage points. If the Democrats play their cards right, they could convert Montana from red to purple.
This new strategy isn't terribly surprising considering recent polls. Researchers have found that the American public, especially young voters, aren’t terribly thrilled about the way that Democrats have handled gun control legislation. The Democratic Party may have to take one step back and two steps forward, so to speak, by surrendering key gun control debates in order to win major political races. As much as it might sting to let go of gun control legislation, it assuredly won’t hurt as much as it would if they let a Republican take office.