It’s that time of year again. Time to vote for NRA Directors, and once again, Adam Kraut is receiving my endorsement. This year, I am also endorsing Anthony Colandro, and offering a hat tip to three of the other candidates.
If you are a Voting Member, you should have received your NRA Ballot in your magazine this week. Only NRA members who have been members for at least 5 consecutive years – with no lapses – or are Life Members, are eligible to vote in NRA elections. If you believe you are a qualified Voting Member, but didn’t receive a ballot in your February edition of your NRA magazine, you should contact the Secretary’s office at NRA HQ.
As usual, the majority of the candidates on the ballot are incumbents running for reelection. There are 27 seats to fill, representing 1/3 of the total Board plus two seats that were vacated, and there are 27 or 28 incumbents running. The disparity is due to some incumbents who were elected or appointed to fill the unexpired terms of directors who resigned or passed away last year, and the 76th Director, who is elected to a 1-year term during the Annual Meeting of Members each year. The bylaws require that the Nominating Committee include at least a few additional candidates, and there are usually a couple of candidates who were nominated only by petition of the members. This year, there are a total of 35 candidates on the ballot, to fill those 27 seats. The 27 candidates who receive the most votes, get the seats, so voting for fewer than 27 gives more weight to your ballot. Folks like Ollie North and Ted Nugent don’t need your vote. They are guaranteed to be among the top vote-getters without your help.
Only about 7% of NRA members who are eligible to vote, actually cast a ballot in any given year. There are over 2 million Voting Members, but only about 150,000 actually vote. That’s pretty sad for the leading rights organization in the world. When I’ve spoken with members who are eligible, but don’t vote, the most common explanation I hear is that they don’t feel they have enough information to be comfortable with voting. Simple answer: Only vote for the few candidates you do know something about, or trust the recommendations of people you respect.
The vast majority of those who do vote, appear to just go along with the Nominating Committee recommendations that are published in the ballot package and repeated in the full-page ad that routinely appears next to the ballot package. The ad usually just lists the Nominating Committee recommendations, but if the current leadership is feeling particularly threatened, they will sometimes pair that list down to only the number of candidates as there are seats to fill, and when they were really worried, they also published a list of candidates who they urged members not to vote for. Those ads used to be paid for by getting all of the Nominating Committee candidates to kick in a couple of hundred bucks, but in recent years, it has been unclear who is actually paying for those ads.
There are normally several thousand ballots ruled to be invalid. The most common reason is over-voting. This is generally due to a member simply going down the Nominating Committee list and voting for everyone on that list. That doesn’t work because the Nominating Committee is required to nominate more candidates than there are seats to fill, and any ballot with more votes than seats, is automatically thrown out. Other reasons for ballots being ruled invalid include failing to mark any candidates, and failing to sign the envelope.
I recommend “Bullet Voting” for just one or two candidates. You can find a fairly thorough explanation of why this gives your vote more weight, in the column linked here. To get the most bang for your vote, I would encourage you to vote for only one candidate, but if you want to vote for more, I’ll offer some suggestions.
So here are my picks for this year:
- Adam Kraut. I’ve endorsed Adam for the past several years, and he’s come close each year, but not quite made it. Adam is an attorney based in Pennsylvania, and is one of the lawyers working on a challenge to the BATFE’s bump-stock ban. If you really want to send a message and make an impact, then vote for only Adam Kraut.
- Anthony Colandro. Anthony is a firearms trainer and gun shop and range owner deep behind enemy lines in New Jersey. He’s a classic “Jersey Boy,” with the no-nonsense attitude and blunt demeanor you’d expect. There has been an attempt to undermine his candidacy with some quotes from an interview several years ago. The quotes used in the article were taken out of context though and are very misleading. In the interview, Colandro was discussing efforts to liberalize the virtually impossible concealed carry laws in New Jersey, and discussed some of the concessions NJ gun owners were willing to make to get discreet carry more available in the state, including background checks and mandatory training, but the reporter used those quotes in an article about National Reciprocity, leaving the impression that Colandro supported expanding federal background check requirements and mandatory training for all gun owners. Anthony has since made it clear that he unequivocally opposes the expansion of background checks to include private transfers, and rejects any sort of training requirement for a national reciprocity bill.
Kraut and Colandro are my top two picks, and every additional vote hurts their chances of winning, but here are a few others that I think are worth considering. Please note that I have known Kraut and Colandro for several years, but do not personally know any of the following candidates. Coincidentally, they all happen to be named Mark.
- Mark Vaughan. Vaughan became famous in the rights community when he stepped up to be the good guy with a gun who stopped a workplace jihadi. Vaughan was running his family’s distribution business when a former employee came in and began attacking people. A shooter and firearms enthusiast, as well as a reserve police officer, Vaughan quickly retrieved a firearm and ended the attack. Would he be an independent voice on the Board? I can’t say, but he certainly embodies the sort of chutzpah needed for the job.
- Mark Geist. Geist was one of the brave contract security personnel who tried to save Ambassador Chris Stevens and then defended the U.S. Compound in Benghazi. He was the coauthor of the book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi which was turned into a movie with a similar title. Geist was an early supporter of Donald Trump, but I don’t know much else about his political views or involvement in Second Amendment issues. He’s clearly extraordinarily brave and competent, but I have some reservations about his knack for self-promotion, and possible links with the NRA’s PR company, Ackerman McQueen. I would expect such an outstanding individual to be able to put aside such considerations when accepting the responsibility of representing NRA members on the Board of Directors though, so I think he is worth your consideration.
- Mark Robinson. Robinson rose to prominence when he made a brief statement in defense of the Second Amendment during a local city council meeting. His passion and clear oratory struck a nerve in the rights community, and the video of his statements went viral. As old sailors say, I like the cut of his jib, but I know little else about the man. Part of his famous speech indicates an imperfect knowledge of firearms and Second Amendment history, but those minor deficiencies can be readily remedied and are far outweighed by his passion and communication skills. He would be a powerful spokesman for the cause, especially in minority communities, as Mr. Robinson is African American.
I think all of these guys would probably be good additions to the Board, but it is very unlikely that all 5 can win seats, and every vote for one of them, reduces the likelihood of the others winning. It’s something of a conundrum, and there’s no simple solution.
Personally, I am going to cast a bullet ballot with only Adam Kraut’s name marked.
I urge you to take some time, thoroughly read all of the bios, do internet searches on the candidates you find interesting, visit their websites, ask them questions, and vote for the ones you believe will do the best job. But whatever you do, please don’t just do nothing. Mark your ballot, sign it, and mail it in. You are the NRA. Do your part.