Montana Shooting Sports Association

2018 Candidate Grades and Endorsements

Please recirculate

(for the General Election, November 6, 2018)

A-F = Letter grade
Bold/E = Endorsed by MSSA

Candidate (Party) - Grade

Federal Offices

U.S. Senate

Rick Breckenridge (L) - A
Matt Rosendale (R) - A+E
Jon Tester (D) - D

U.S. House of Representatives

Greg Gianforte (R) - AE
Elinor Swanson (L) - A
Kathleen Williams (D) - F

A note about Libertarian Party (LP) candidates for U.S. Senate and U.S. House.  A pair of stellar candidates have filed for these federal offices under the LP banner.  They returned great MSSA Candidate Questionnaires.  They are savvy, dedicated, and understand RKBA issues.  However and unfortunately, they are not going to get elected.  Also unfortunately, LP candidates almost always affect such races as spoilers (unintentionally), and just siphon off enough votes to insure that the anti-liberty, anti-RKBA candidate gets elected.  That has happened far too many times in Montana.  Although it is unpleasant to do so, MSSA makes the STRONG recommendation that voters concerned about the RKBA vote for the candidates MSSA has endorsed in BOLD above.  These MSSA-endorsed candidates are proven advocates for the RKBA and are very likely to win their respective seats if gun owners support them.

Montana Legislature

Explanation about legislative candidate grades and endorsements (please read):  A HUGE amount of information goes into compiling these grades and endorsements.  MSSA tracks legislative votes on gun-related bills before the Legislature.  For example, MSSA tracked 15 different votes for 100 members of the House in the 2017 session.  That's 1,500 pieces of data to track.  So, when an incumbent candidate is graded, know that this is from hard data and historic performance.  Votes cast are highly relevant and dependable as a litmus of a candidate's RKBA performance and attitude.  It also means that the candidate is an incumbent (usual) or has served in the Legislature before (so we have a voting record).  MSSA's 2018 Candidate Questionnaire (CQ) has 13 questions for a candidate to answer with any one of five answers.  That times the 185 candidates just for the House in the General Election is another potential 12,205 bits of data to receive, store, and collate.

If a candidate returned MSSA's 2018 Candidate Questionnaire but has not served in the Legislature (if the candidate has a voting record, we consider votes cast to be a more reliable litmus and use that), then the candidate is graded based on that CQ.  Many candidates (especially Democrats) are advised by others to NOT complete or return MSSA's CQ, which is why the reader will see so many candidates with a "?" rather than a grade.  These candidates have no voting record and no CQ on file with MSSA.  It is MSSA's position that these candidates are likely hostile to the RKBA, which is why they didn't return MSSA's CQ.  Rarely, MSSA will grade a candidate with another basis.  That's because MSSA has some other source if information about the candidate than a voting record or CQ.  MSSA does compare notes extensively with the NRA during the process of working up these grades and endorsements, although MSSA and the NRA don't always agree on appropriate grades (MSSA tends to be less forgiving of anti-gun votes).  For those few candidates who have a "+" after an "A" grade, that is because MSSA reserves the A+ only for legislators who have carried bills for MSSA.  These are especially dedicated and proven supporters of the RKBA.  Endorsed candidates are in Bold.

Further note:  Of the 242 candidates seeking the 125 seats up for grabs in the 2019 Legislature, MSSA has endorsed 72 Republicans, 2 Libertarian, and no Democrats.  Thus, MSSA has reason to endorse candidates in over half of the races for legislative seats.  Unfortunately, MSSA could not endorse any Democrats, either because incumbents had poor voting records or because new candidates chose to not return MSSA's Candidate Questionnaire (or, rarely, did return MSSA's CQ but did not score well).  Honestly, MSSA would love to be able to endorse some Democrats.  However, we won't do that gratuitously.  To earn MSSA's endorsement, incumbents must vote for pro-gun bills and new candidates must return a good CQ.  Finally, what was said above about LP candidates for federal office does not apply to the two LP candidates endorsed below.