Montana Shooting Sports Association
2020 Candidate Grades and Endorsements
(for the General Election, November 3, 2020)
A-F = Letter grade
Bold/E = Endorsed by MSSA
Candidate (Party) - Grade
Steve Daines (R) - AE
Steve Bullock (D) - F
Wendie Fredrickson (G) - ?
U.S. House of Representatives
Matt Rosendale (R) - AE
John Gibney (G) - ?
Kathleen Williams (D) - F
Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Greg Gianforte & Kristen Juras (R) - AE
Mike Cooney & Casey Schreiner (D) - ?
Robert Barb & Joshua Thomas (G) - ?
Lyman Bishop & John Nesper (L) - A
Austin Knudsen (R) - AE
Ralph Graybill (D) - ?
Roy Davis (G) - A
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 2019 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 2020 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 declined to 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
Note: MSSA does not endorse candidates who have no
challenger and therefore no contest in the General Election.
An endorsement declares that one candidate will better represent gun
owners than other candidates in the same race. If there are no
other candidates and no race, no endorsement.
Further note: Of the 242 candidates seeking the 125
seats up for grabs in the 2019 Legislature, MSSA has endorsed
56 Republicans and no Democrats. 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.