Bob Crook is head of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen. He says big gun lobbies like the NSSF and the National Rifle Association haven't spent a lot of political money on Connecticut races in the past, primarily because of this state's strict limits on the amount of contributions. Now, the rules of the game have been drastically changed. The U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling allows lobby groups and others to essentially spend unlimited money on political messages.
"I think it's very clear we are displeased by the comments of the governor toward our industry, for which he refused to apologize," Lawrence Keane, one of the top honchos at the NSSF, told a Hearst reporter. "We are very likely to educate gun owners and hunters and sportsmen in Connecticut about the governor's intemperate remarks regarding our industry."
"Educate" as in anti-Malloy ads and campaign attacks.
Occhiogrosso thinks a big gun-industry assault on Malloy next year could backfire.
"To the extent that it highlights the fact that this governor helped push through some of the toughest gun-control legislation in the country... I think it may actually help him."
Paulson says a gun-industry campaign against Malloy in our pro-gun-control state could be "something of a wash."
Malloy's underlying problem is that, aside from the gun control and economic stuff, a lot of Connecticut voters don't seem to feel he's a very likable guy.
That last Q Poll asked if people believed Malloy "cares about the needs and problems of people like you." The answer came back 47 percent yes, and 47 percent no.
"That's a very important one," Schwartz says. "What it measures is empathy; does he really get your problems?"
Crook thinks gun owners are dead certain Malloy doesn't understand their issues. "There's opposition to him, that's for damned sure," Crook notes. "I don't think any gun owners are going to vote for him."
If Malloy's gun policies do come under attack — and it's a virtual certainty — it's an open question how the non-gun-owning public will respond.
As Paulson notes, "There's not a bedrock of affection protecting him from bad news."