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Mike Beltran inflated his NRA grade, scoresheet shows

Lithia Republican Mike Beltran has been touting an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association in his campaign to succeed exiting Rep. Jake Raburn in House District 57, but a look at the gradebook shows that’s a misrepresentation.

Contrary to communications from his campaign, including a mailer that went out to HD 57 voters, the NRA says it rates the 34-year-old attorney as an “AQ” candidate.

Yes, there’s an “A” in the title, and yes, an “AQ” is considered a positive rating by the pro-gun group. But an “A” and an “AQ” are not the same. Simply put, one is all talk while the other requires kind of action.

Per the NRA, an “AQ” rating means the following: “A pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate’s responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.”

An “A” rating — one notch up on the scale — is described thusly: “Solidly pro-gun candidate. A candidate who has supported NRA positions on key votes in elective office or a candidate with a demonstrated record of support on Second Amendment issues.”

So, according to the NRA, Beltran scored well on their questionnaire, but there’s nothing in his background that would push him over the edge and land him a full-fledged “A.” It would be one thing if Beltran had the highest score in the race, but he doesn’t — businessman and U.S. Army veteran Sean McCoy, his opponent in the Republican primary, earned the real-deal “A.”

While both men scrambled to qualify for the race after Raburn’s surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election, it appears — assuming this misrepresentation is not intentional — Beltran’s camp hasn’t settled in enough to pay attention to the details.

Florida Politics reached out to the campaign for comment on the error but did not receive a response.

Beltran and McCoy are a few weeks out from their head-to-head primary showdown. The winner of that contest will almost assuredly succeed Raburn, however they’ll still be on the November ballot alongside Valrico Democrat Debbie Katt.

The most recent round of campaign finance reports shows McCoy, a West Point graduate, with $49,000 raised and $28,566 banked. While that gives him a near 2-to-1 lead in true fundraising, Beltran holds the overall cash lead thanks a $100,000 candidate loan he made shortly after filing. Katt, for her part, has raised $11,045 for her campaign and has $5,240 on hand.

HD 57 covers part of southeastern Hillsborough County and leans Republican.

The GOP has a 7-point lead in voter registrations within the district, and Raburn had no trouble holding the seat for three terms. In 2012, his only campaign where he faced a Democratic challenger, Raburn cruised to a 17-point victory.

Beltran’s mailer is below.

Beltran Mailer

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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