Former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords is backing Rep. Leonard Lance in his bid for for a sixth term in New Jersey.
It’s a notable endorsement because it crosses party lines: Giffords, one of the nation’s leading gun control advocates and a former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, vacated her seat in 2012 after she was shot in 2011 in an apparent assassination attempt.
Lance, a Republican, has bucked the party line and been one of the most vocal proponents in the GOP of imposing more restrictive gun measures.
On the website for her advocacy group and super PAC, Giffords describes Lance as a “problem-solving representative” who supports expanding background checks and was “one of the first members of Congress to cosponsor a bipartisan bill to ban bump stocks” after the Las Vegas shooting last year.
The Republican from New Jersey’s 7th District is in a tough re-election campaign against Tom Malinowski, a former Obama State Department official.
Lance won the district by a sound 11 points in 2016, even though Hillary Clinton carried it by 2 points over President Donald Trump.
Lance has also supported closing the gun show loophole, using a universal background check system, and allowing the feds to research the effects of gun violence.
“These are all common-sense measures, and they’re supported overwhelmingly,” he said in an interview with WHYY in New Jersey. The measures are “supported by those who believe in strong protections for the Second Amendment, as I do.”
Malinowski told WHYY he is not buying Lance’s shift to the left on the gun debate.
“For years, he bragged about his 100 percent voting record from the National Rifle Association,” Malinowski said.
Malinowski pointed to an archived page from Lance’s campaign website in 2012 where he touts a “100 percent NRA voting record in Congress” and his opposition to the federal assault weapons ban and funding a national gun registry database.
Lance and Giffords served in the House concurrently from 2009 to 2012.