Every year about this time, the NRA sends out ballots to voting members to choose about 25 of the organization’s 76-member Board of Directors. Each year I sift through the nominees and offer suggestions as to whom I believe will best serve the membership. This year I am endorsing just two nominees: Anthony P. Colandro, an outspoken and colorful range owner and firearms instructor from New Jersey, and Tracie L. Hill, a leading expert on Thompson sub-machine guns and author.
The main reason I am endorsing Colandro and Hill, aside from their credentials, is because the official NRA Nominating Committee didn’t. Both these candidates were nominated only by petition of the members. While the Nominating Committee slate includes some worthy candidates, I think it’s good to throw an outsider into the mix now and then.
Let me say that the NRA Board of Directors is, for the most part, a stellar group of dedicated and impressive individuals with a broad range of backgrounds, interests and abilities. There are very few of them that I do not hold in the highest regard. Most have solid backgrounds in support of the Second Amendment, impressive credentials in the shooting sports, and have proven themselves as diligent workers and supporters of the organization’s goals and the membership’s best interests.
That said, there are a few with whom I have a bone to pick regarding past actions, and many whom I wish would be more aggressive setting policy and leading the organization’s paid staff rather than being led by them. There are also a few who I feel are serving their own personal agendas. I won’t call out specific individuals because I don’t see that as serving any useful purpose. The fact is that NRA elections are essentially a closed course, and there’s little chance of seriously impacting them.
There are 25 incumbents – all endorsed by the Nominating Committee – on the ballot. The Nominating Committee has also endorsed 4 additional candidates for consideration. Add in Colandro and Hill, and you have 31 candidates to fill 25 seats.
That means that at the very least, 19 incumbents are guaranteed to win, but it’s more likely that 23 or 24, if not all 25, will keep their seats. If any incumbents do lose, the odds are they will be replaced by Nominating Committee candidates, not Hill or Colandro.
This is because the process is front-loaded to give incumbents and Nominating Committee candidates a significant advantage. Not only are most incumbents self-identified as current board members in their bios in the magazine, there is always a full-page ad listing the Nominating Committee candidates just before the bios and a full-page “Report” listing the Nominating Committee candidates again just after the bios and in front of the ballot itself. Anyone filling out their ballot has that list, which doesn’t include Colandro and Hill, right in front of them on the facing page. In years when there were serious challenges to the current leadership, the full-page ad also included a “Don’t Vote For” list and once they even included a list of undesirables – myself included – right in front of the ballot.
Since the vast majority of NRA members who actually cast ballots – and that number is a shamefully low percentage of those eligible – get most of their information about the candidates from the ballot issue of the magazine, these ads and reports hold significant sway. That means that whoever controls the magazine controls the election.
So, with the outcome of the elections all but a foregone conclusion, I generally reserve my vote for those one or two underdogs who have the temerity to beard the lion in his den and challenge the status quo. Even though I have several personal friends on the board, I would only offer them an endorsement if I felt they were at risk of losing their seat. Based on past elections, I could almost tell you what the exact order of the winners of this election will be from one to about 22, but it’s only the last three or four seats that might be “in play.”
Gunny Ermey and Tom Seleck will get the most votes, but, based on past vote totals, Joel Friedman of Los Angeles, John Cushman of New York and David Bennett of New Mexico – all long-time members – are the ones most likely to be at risk.
Friedman actually lost his seat last year but was able to get back on the board by being elected to the single, one-year seat that is voted on by the members present at the Annual Meeting. If an incumbent loses this year, expect him to take that same route.
For either Colandro or Hill to have a chance of winning, they must get more votes than one of these candidates, and get more votes than any of the four extra Nominating Committee candidates. That’s a pretty tall order.
To get there, they need all the help they can get, and I’m giving them whatever help I can. If you’re a voting member of NRA and feel that any candidate you support needs your vote to win, by all means include a vote for them on your ballot, but the fewer people you mark on your ballot, the more power your vote has – so use it wisely. You don’t have to vote for all 25.
Please vote only for Colandro and Hill, and those few candidates you know and respect who actually need your vote to win.
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