Liberals are challenging fellow Democrats on guns in primaries, opening up divisions within the party on one of the most volatile issues of 2016, Politico reports. In the Ohio Senate primary, a young city councilman is attacking former Gov. Ted Strickland, a popular Democrat who once touted National Rifle Association support. Near Las Vegas, four Democrats are racing to see who is more anti-gun, including one candidate who renounced his NRA membership. In pro-gun central Florida, a rising Democratic star is under scrutiny for votes like one that prevented companies from banning guns from their parking lots.
The new wave of attention to this issue from the left, which has seen Hillary Clinton embrace gun control from the bully pulpit of a presidential campaign, signals a strategic shift for Democrats in some areas. The party once let its moderate members off the hook on gun-related votes, understanding that Democrats from swing districts needed to hew closer to the NRA's positions in order to survive politically. Rep. Robin Kelly, a Chicago Democrat whose first race for Congress in 2013 focused on guns, credits the new power of the issue for her place in the House. “It helped that my opponents were 'A' rated by NRA,” Kelly said. “If we were all 'F' rated [by the NRA], maybe, who knows what would've happened.”