June 10, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Samantha Friedman, West End Strategy Team, samantha@westendstrategy.com, Office: (202) 776-7700, Cell: (202) 215-9260

 “Virginia Citizens Defense League” goes 0-9 in GOP Primaries as candidates embracing extreme positions on guns fall flat

Richmond, VA−The self-described “premier organization in Virginia in support of…Second Amendment rights,” the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), endorsed nine different candidates in yesterday’s GOP primary races for the state House and Senate. Its candidates—who took extreme positions on the gun issue—lost in every case.“Gun groups like VCDL have long considered low-turnout, GOP primary elections to be their bread and butter,” said the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Virginia State Director Lori Haas. “Yesterday’s results demonstrate that their agenda is now too radical and unseemly even for this constituency. Common sense on gun violence prevention is prevailing, and that’s a good sign as we head into the 2015 general election in the Commonwealth.”

The VCDL’s highest profile target was Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell, about whom the gun group said the following: “[Speaker Howell] is not only establishment, he IS the establishment, and EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH IT! His cowardice in the face of controversy creates endless grief for Virginia’s gun owners.”

VCDL took particular offense at what it described as Speaker Howell’s “craven tactics” in pocket vetoing gun bills that it endorsed. On Facebook, VCDL rallied its supporters to “depose the king” by supporting Howell’s primary opponent, Tea Party activist Sue Stimpson. Nonetheless, Speaker Howell crushed Stimpson in the primary, garnering 62 percent of the vote.

The Howell victory wasn’t the only bad news for VCDL. It also endorsed established incumbents Senator Steve Martin (11th) and Delegate Mark Berg (29th), challengers Bill Haley (Senate – 14th), Dan Moxley (Senate – 24th), and Harry Griego (House – 17th), and open seat candidates Craig Hudgins (Senate – 8th), Vince Haley (Senate – 12th), and Tim Ciampaglio (House – 2nd), all of whom lost. Ciampaglio, who recently highlighted his VCDL endorsement in a fundraising email, lost his contest against former Delegate Mark Dudenhefer by a whopping 20 percentage points.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. CSGV can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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