NASHVILLE, Tenn. — U.S. Rep. Diane Black has landed the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in a crowded Republican primary field for Tennessee governor.
In a news release Thursday, the influential gun rights group’s Political Victory Fund said Black is the only Tennessee gubernatorial candidate with an “A″ rating and a “perfect record” on Second Amendment issues.
The group’s blessing is highly sought after for many Republicans, even as it has received heightened scrutiny during the recent wave of school shootings that have prompted calls for stricter gun control. Black has said the problem in school shootings is mental illness and the “deterioration of the family,” not the availability of guns.
The NRA lauded her co-sponsorship of legislation that would let state-issued concealed-carry permit holders carry a handgun in any state that allows concealed weapons, among other measures on which she sided with the group.
“For over two decades Diane Black has been a steadfast supporter of our constitutional right to self-defense,” NRA Political Victory Fund Chairman Chris Cox said in the release. “She has never wavered in the fight to expand and protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
The other leading GOP candidates are ex-state economic development commissioner Randy Boyd, state House Speaker Beth Harwell and businessman Bill Lee. Each has been outspoken about supporting gun rights.
Asked about whether to roll back a state law allowing guns in car trunks, Boyd said at a debate Wednesday that it’s the wrong question, because if someone is determined to get a gun, they are going to find a way to get a gun.
Lee said law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have their rights taken away due to criminals. Harwell has said she supports state gun laws as they currently stand.
Term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has stayed out of the Aug. 2 primary race, but campaigns have touted plenty of other supporters.
Lee recently drew the endorsement of ex-state Sen. Mae Beavers, a former GOP candidate in the governor’s race. Harwell has the support of the Tennessee Education Association teachers group. And Boyd has landed endorsements from more than 100 mayors across Tennessee.
Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh are running on the Democratic side.