During his 2010 congressional campaign, Democrat Tim Walz of Minnesota boasted about his A rating from the National Rifle Association. He opposed gun-control measures and snagged donations from pro-gun organizations. He also assured voters in his conservative district that, as a hunter and military veteran, he would never betray the state's grand tradition in firearms.
Eight years – and tragedy – flipped his stance.
In August, Walz won the gubernatorial primary on an aggressive gun-control platform. He endorsed a ban on assault weapons, pushed universal background checks and disavowed support from the NRA. He also donated the $18,000 the NRA gave him throughout his career to a veterans group.
"I expect the NRA to spend millions trying to defeat me," he wrote in an op-ed following the February mass shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which shifted his stance on guns. Walz is running statewide in Minnesota, which leans Democratic, while his 1st Congressional District leans Republican.
There has been a substantial shift to the left in the Democratic Party in the 2018 elections. In the primaries, Democrats largely recalibrated their positions on gun measures, turned their backs to the NRA — and won. They now prepare for midterm battles in red-tinged states and districts against Republican pro-gun candidates and face a strong, newfound opposition from the NRA.