Today, on the 19th Anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting massacre, we have this – the apparent awarding by the gun control group Moms Demand Action, of something that looks an awful lot like an endorsement – they call it a “distinction” – for Jeff Van Drew. Van Drew is a candidate for Congress in NJ’s second congressional district. With a 100% Rating from the NRA.
On Moms Demand Action’s website, in big letters it says: THROW THEM OUT An Action Plan to Kick Out Lawmakers Beholden to the Gun Lobby
The problem is, Jeff Van Drew is one of those beholden to the gun lobby. And Moms Demand Action, maybe without quite intending it, has now made it easy for Van Drew to claim that one of the most odious aspects of his voting record can’t be much of a problem because it hasn’t stopped Moms Demand Action from finding him a candidate of “distinction” There are already calls for Moms Demand Action to rescind whatever this “distinction” signifies. And questions about what their “distinction” recognition actually means. The group asks candidates to fill out a questionnaire (Blue Jersey has asked for a copy), a common method used by groups considering congressional candidates to get behind. The difference is most candidates that get a bump from groups like this don’t have a long record of votes exactly the opposite of what the group is all about. So, there’s considerable confusion about what Moms Demand Action intends here. And quite frankly, if they even know they’ve stepped in it. Their mission statement says (emphasis mine):
“Much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving was created to reduce drunk driving, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to demand action from legislators, state and federal; companies; and educational institutions to establish common-sense gun reforms.”
In his time in the New Jersey legislature, Van Drew has:
- a 100% Rating from the NRA
- has sponsored concealed carry legislation
- has voted against common sense gun legislation proposed by colleagues – check his record
That would seem to be the opposite of what might earn “distinction” from Moms Demand Action. Shani Nuckols, lead volunteer for Moms Demand Camden County local is dealing with a wall of outrage right now, particularly from CD2 constituents. I feel for her; this wasn’t her doing. She tells South Jersey Women for Progressive Change that this isn’t an endorsement, it’s a “distinction” and the National org made this decision. It is, she says, a “far from perfect process.” She also says now that he’s been given the “distinction,” they intend to hold him accountable. I wouldn’t want to be in Shani’s shoes tonight, taking in complaints; she’s well aware of Van Drew’s record. People have also been tweeting to @shannonrwatts, founder of Moms Demand Action. Blue Jersey did (Watts has not yet replied, though she has been active on Twitter the last hour).
We are told other candidates got this same “distinction.” Helen Duda, of South Jersey Women for Progressive Change, reports that Van Drew’s Democratic primary opponents Tanzie Youngblood and Will Cunningham have the same distinction from Moms Demand Action. But the difference is they don’t have his long, pro-gun, record, and the “distinction” the NRA has already given him.