It’s no secret that the NRA has been one of Republicans’ greatest and most potent weapons in local and national elections, and as 2020 approaches and Trump vies for re-election, the party will need that ace up its sleeve more than ever. Not just for the president, either—Democrats control the House, and the RNC will want to fight back in that chamber, but most important of all is maintaining control of the Senate in the face of a potential second blue wave.
Unfortunately, as a new Politico feature makes clear, the NRA is in shambles just a year and change away from the election:
The organization’s troubles are hard to overstate. The most serious threat is an investigation by New York state attorney general’s office into its tax-exempt status. In April, NRA President Oliver North was ousted in an ugly public spectacle in which he declared the group was in a “clear crisis.” News organizations have also reported that NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre used $275,000 of the group’s money to buy luxury clothes at Zegna in Beverly Hills, Calif., and that the organization logged tens of thousands of dollars in other expenses that benefited its officials.
Even Trump tweeted about their struggles:
Last week, things somehow got even worse when Chris Cox, the trusted head of lobbying since 2002, resigned. Losing his relationships with donors and Republican leadership is another major blow. He’ll be replaced by director of federal affairs Jason Ouimet, who released a bullish “discount us at your peril” statement to Politico, but many seem to be worried about the change.
The instability at the NRA coincides with other troubling signs for Republicans, including the Koch Network “gradually shifting away from partisanship” and directing more of their efforts to policy, and the Chamber of Commerce spending less money than ever before on the 2018 races. There’s still plenty of time for the big money apparatus to find its feet, and the RNC is “cash-flush,” per Politico, but the writing on the wall in July 2019 spells difficulty for Republicans in November 2020.