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Republican Senate hopeful regrets NRA ‘flub’

By   /   April 3, 2014  /   1 Comment

“JUMPED THE GUN:” New Mexico Republican Senate hopeful David Clements said he spoke too soon when saying he’s received an “A” rating from the NRA.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE — David Clements, who is running to win the Republican nomination and the right to take on Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, this fall, said he mistakenly told listeners on a talk radio program he got an A rating from the National Rifle Association.

“It was a flub,” Clements told New Mexico Watchdog on Thursday afternoon. “I don’t think it was anything intentional.”

Appearing on the Scott Stigler Show on 770KKOB Wednesday afternoon, Clements said he was told he received an A from the powerful conservative political action committee.

But Catherine Mortensen, a spokeswoman for the NRA based in Fairfax, Va., said the organization has not released ratings in the race between Clements and Allen Weh, who will face off June 3.

“The NRA has not made any endorsements in this primary race, nor have we given out grades to the candidates,” Mortensen said in a telephone interview.

Clements said he was on the phone with another representative of the NRA on Thursday afternoon to determine what caused the mix up. Clements said his campaign staff mistakenly told him about him receiving the grade.

“I thought it was vetted” at the time of the radio interview, Clements said. “They (staff members) might have jumped the gun. Let us sort this out.”

“Our only point is that we want to clarify that we haven’t given out any endorsements nor given out any grades to the candidates,” Mortensen said. “Our whole main goal here is that if we do make an endorsement and give out grades that voters get the accurate information, and it comes from the source.”

Mortensen said she wasn’t sure if the NRA will make an endorsement or hand out grades in the Clements-Weh race before the primary. She also said that the NRA hands out grades for politicians who have served in office and have a voting record to inspect.

For those who don’t — and neither Clements nor Weh have served in office — they can fill out an NRA questionnaire. The highest grade available in those cases is “A-Q,” with “Q” standing for questionnaire.

Clements said he not a registered member of the NRA but did say he takes a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and once taught a use-of-force class at the American Gun Culture Club in Las Cruces.

Weh is also not a registered NRA member. “However,” Weh said in a statement Thursday, “when I ran (for governor) in 2010, I was given an A-Q rating by the NRA. I am a gun owner and I full expect to get an A-Q rating again from the NRA.”

Clements and Weh are battling for the GOP nomination. Last month at the state’s Republican pre-primary convention, Weh defeated Clements but the vote was close — 53.17 percent for Weh and 46.83 for Clements.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at rnikolewski@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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Rob Nikolewski is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org based in Santa Fe, N.M. Contact him at rnikolewski@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @NMWatchdog.

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