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Endorsement mix up called ‘an oversight’

Kyle Koehler received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund in the Republican primary for a statehouse seat, while another candidate, Rick Chimento, claimed to have received an endorsement on his campaign website in what he called “an oversight.”

Three Clark County Republicans — Chimento, Koehler and Argeri Lagos — are on the May 6 ballot seeking the Republican nomination for the 79th Ohio House District. The winner will face Democratic candidate Darrell Jackson in the Nov. 4 general election.

On April 18, Chimento wrote on his campaign website he received an endorsement from the NRA. However, Chimento received a B+ rating from the organization, which has endorsed Koehler on its NRA Political Victory Fund.

Chimento’s campaign staff was under the impression the rating was an endorsement and incorrectly reported it on his website last week. It was removed on Monday afternoon. He believed the NRA did not hand out endorsements and only ratings, but said he didn’t know enough about the grading system.

“I’m as firm on gun rights as anybody,” Chimento said.

Each candidate was asked to fill out a candidate questionnaire with approximately 27 questions.

Koehler received an AQ rating, which is described on the NRA’s website as “a pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate’s responses to the NRA PVF Candidate Questionnaire” but “does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.” Candidates in other races in Ohio have received AQ ratings, but were not endorsed by the NRA.

“In this case, the NRA chose to get involved and endorse based upon what they’ve discovered about the candidates,” Koehler said.

Koehler said he has an issue with the misinformation on Chimento’s website. All the candidates answered the same questions and Chimento’s answers “caused the NRA to pause,” Koehler said.

“He’s claiming he’s endorsed by a group and he’s not,” Koehler said. “This is not the only issue in this race, but there are people out there who are concerned about gun rights. For them, it’s an important issue.”

Lagos received a C+ rating from the NRA, according to its website. Lagos believes strongly in protecting both the constitution and the Second Amendment, but said “special interest groups, no matter what group, will never control my actions.”

“The rating I received from the gun lobbyists represents that I believe in the Second Amendment, but that I am also unwilling to compromise my beliefs in protecting property rights and protecting our children from gun violence in public schools,” Lagos wrote in an e-mail.

A B-rating means the candidate is “generally pro-gun;” however, the candidate “may have opposed some pro-gun reform or supported some restrictive legislation in the past,” according to the NRA-PVF website. A C-rating is “not necessarily a passing grade” and the candidate has a “mixed record or positions on gun-related issues” and “may oppose some pro-gun positions or support some restrictive legislation.”

All four candidates are political newcomers. State Rep. Ross McGregor, R- Springfield, who currently holds the office, has served the maximum four terms in office. The district consists of Springfield and the southwestern half of Clark County.

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