Rivals for 20th Congressional District seen as in accord on gun ownership issues
By CASEY SEILER, State editor
The race for the 20th Congressional District saw a rare moment of agreement between incumbent Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, and GOP candidate Sandy Treadwell on Monday after both were given top marks by the National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund for their stand on gun ownership issues.
Gillibrand received an A rating, while Treadwell received an AQ, the qualified grade given to sympathetic candidates without a voting record on gun issues. Treadwell's marks were based solely on the group's questionnaire, while Gillibrand's were based on her answers and votes from her first term in Congress.
But Treadwell was quickest on the draw, releasing a statement Saturday that read almost like a backhanded endorsement: "I congratulate (Gillibrand) for being a staunch ally of President Bush and Vice President Cheney on this issue," Treadwell said.
Noting that the NRA has warned that Sen. Barack Obama would be "the most anti-gun president in American history," Treadwell called on Gillibrand "and all supporters of the Second Amendment to join with me in pledging to fight against any effort by Sen. Obama, if he is elected, to erode our constitutional right to own guns."
Gillibrand's statement, released on Monday, failed to mention Treadwell or Obama. It did include this salient fact: The 20th has the most NRA members in any of New York's 29 congressional districts.
"I come from a family of hunters, and preserving this strong upstate tradition is a priority of mine in Congress," Gillibrand said. "I will continue to oppose legislation that will restrict the rights of responsible gun owners and I will continue to advocate for policies that will keep our rivers, land and air clean, so that future generations can enjoy hunting and wildlife in our region."
One of the key factors in Gillibrand's grade, according to the NRA's report, was her co-signing of the congressional amicus brief in the Supreme Court's recent Heller decision, which struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban.