Anatomy of an NRA takedown

When Debra Maggart — then-chairwoman of the GOP caucus in the Tennessee House of Representatives and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association — killed an NRA-backed bill in April 2012 that would have allowed Tennesseans to keep concealed firearms in their cars wherever they parked, she quickly found herself targeted by the political equivalent of a carpet-bombing campaign to remove her from office.

Ahead of an Aug. 2, 2012, GOP primary election, the NRA and other gun-rights groups spent about $155,000 on billboards, mailings and full-page newspaper ads attacking Maggart and promoting her opponent, Courtney Rogers, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and political neophyte who had never ran for public office before.

Here are some of the tactics used by the NRA to take her down.

The NRA Political Victory Fund set up, which heavily promoted Rogers.


It put up billboards in Maggart’s hometown of Hendersonville, Tenn., linking her to another frequent target of the NRA’s wrath.



Full-page ads were placed in local newspapers.



NRA chief lobbyist and fellow Tennessean Chris Cox joined the offensive, recording a radio spot attacking Maggart.




Cox also starred in an anti-Maggart video that appeared on the group’s YouTube channel.



And then there were the mailers …



And more mailers …



And more mailers …



And, yes, more mailers …


Less than four months after she tabled the bill, Maggart lost the race by 16 points.