The squabbling over gun issues continues in Virginia’s 31st district state Senate contest, where Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola (D) and businesswoman Caren Merrick (R) are trading accusations over what information the two campaigns should or should not release.
Gun rights has become one of the most divisive issues in their contest and other state legislative races in Northern Virginia, where many voters are more liberal on gun issues than voters in other parts of the state. Democrats in the region have accused their Republican opponents of being overly supportive of gun rights and thus out of step with the area’s prevailing views.
Favola and some pro-gun control groups have been pressuring Merrick to release the questionnaire she filled out for the National Rifle Association, which gave the Republican an A- grade on its scorecard. Favola received an F.
At an Oct. 19 debate, Merrick was asked whether she would release the questionnaire.
“It will be released before the election, it will. I promise you will get to see it before you pull the lever on the vote” Merrick said, before adding that voters didn’t typically ask her about gun issues on the campaign trail.
But last week, Chris LaCivita, a consultant working for the Merrick campaign, put a new condition on that pledge.
“She’ll release her questionnaire from the NRA when Barbara Favola releases her questionnaire from the AFL-CIO,” LaCivita said, as Merrick’s campaign has sought to paint Favola as too close to organized labor.
In response, Favola said she’d be “happy to” release her AFL-CIO questionnaire, and she did so Friday — including giving a copy to the Merrick campaign.
“Proud of my @Virginia_AFLCIO survey. Voters can pick up a copy. Hope my opponent will be transparent & release her NRA survey as promised,” Favola tweeted Friday.
Meanwhile, yet another questionnaire is sowing confusion in the race.
On its Web site, the National Association for Gun Rights shows Favola having answered on the group’s candidate survey that she would oppose legislation banning .50 caliber firearms, and that she would support legislation repealing Virginia’s “one gun a month” law. Those answers contradict Favola’s public positions on those issues.
Favola campaign manager Adam Scott said those answers as posted on NAGR’s site “are not accurate. I have asked NAGR to correct their website numerous times and they have not responded.” Scott provided copies of Favola’s original questionnaire, which shows her providing the opposite answers on those two questions.
NAGR had not returned a call seeking comment as of this posting.