Dem Senate Candidate Ted Strickland Refuses to ‘Renounce’ the NRA

John Kerry and Ted Strickland in 2004
John Kerry and Ted Strickland in 2004 / AP
October 14, 2015

P.G. Sittenfeld, a Democratic candidate for Senate in Ohio, took a jab at Ted Strickland, his competitor for the nomination, Tuesday night for refusing to "renounce" the National Rifle Association.

Sittenfeld, a 31-year-old Cincinnati city councilman, live-tweeted the first Democratic presidential primary debate, criticizing both Strickland and incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) for doing the "bidding" of the NRA.

"Gun safety is absolutely a top issue. Still waiting on @Ted_Strickland & @RobPortman to renounce their NRA support," Sittenfeld wrote on Twitter.

"Glad to hear Hillary thinks the candidate with the D- NRA rating isn’t tough enough on guns. I’m running against 2 candidates w/ ‘A’ ratings."

"What having an A+ rating from the NRA means is that you do their bidding. We need Senators who arent afraid to stand up to extreme gun lobby," Sittenfeld tweeted.

Strickland, the former governor of Ohio, has received an A+ rating from the NRA and was endorsed by the group during his failed 2010 reelection campaign against Republican John Kasich.

"Our members will interpret your ‘A+’ rating and endorsement as an indication that you are a pro-Second Amendment, pro-hunting candidate who supports sportsmen and gun-owners on every issue," the chair of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund wrote to Strickland in a letter at the time.

Though Strickland went on to work for the Center for American Progress, which is decidedly anti-gun, he has yet to, as Sittenfeld stated, "renounce" his pro-gun voting record in Congress.

Sittenfeld also knocked Strickland for voting to repeal the Depression-era banking law Glass-Steagall, which made big banks split their commercial and investment practices. While liberal presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Martin O’Malley support the reinstatement of the law, Hillary Clinton--an ally to Strickland--has dismissed the idea.

"Agree we need to re-instate Glass Steagall, and @Ted_Strickland should agree to debates to explain why he voted for its repeal," Sittenfeld wrote on Twitter.

The Democratic candidate for Senate also jabbed at Strickland for not voicing a position on the Keystone XL pipeline, a decision for which he has also received criticism from Portman. In August, Strickland said that he was "staying out" of conversations about the Keystone XL because the pipeline "doesn’t involve Ohio."

"Ohio’s current Senators have already voted on #KeystoneXL. Those seeking the position need to take a stand. I’m strongly opposed," Sittenfeld said on social media Tuesday.

Sittenfeld, who is largely unknown to Ohio voters, has called for Democratic primary debates against Strickland, though the former governor has not responded to his appeals, which Sittenfeld echoed repeatedly during Tuesday’s debate.

In an effort to increase his name recognition, Sittenfeld purchased the first television advertisements of the 2016 Senate race in Ohio. The ads aired during the debate Tuesday night in multiple cities across the state.

While the Ohio Democratic Party has already endorsed Strickland, Sittenfeld has support from some prominent Ohio Democrats who oppose the party’s decision to back the former governor. Sittenfeld’s supporters have formed a super PAC, which raised $370,000 in its first two weeks.