Is it a good idea to have a shooting contest for a fundraiser? If you are just an ex-Marine who once faced pre-meditated murder charges, it may not. But if you are Ilario Pantano, the Republican Congressional candidate and Tea Party darling of the North Carolina Congressional District 7, it is more than a fundraiser. It is an patriotic event.
Pantano has been in the news for some time. He faced premeditated murder charges in 2004, the first Marine who fought in Iraq to face such charges (read my piece on Pantano here). The charges were eventually dropped during the Article 32 hearing (military's equivalent of indictment hearing) because the chief witness was found unreliable. Now he is holding a fundraiser at a shooting range where "any patriot" can pay $25 and challenge him. Here is the event as featured on his website:
OCTOBER 24: PROTECT THE 2ND AMENDMENT - STEEL CHALLENGE!
WANTED: Patriots to help Pantano protect the Second Amendment and fire Pelosi and the Liberal Congress!
Come see if you have what it takes to out-shoot Pantano, your candidate for the U.S. Congress.
Pantano needs your help to fix Washington, so come on out to the social fundraiser for an afternoon of fun, food, and guns!
WHO: Any patriot who thinks they can outshoot their next Congressman
WHAT: A fundraiser pistol match, $25 per entry. Bring your own guns/ammo.
WHEN: Sunday, October 24, registration begins at 11 AM. Match starts at noon.
WHERE: Ant Hill Range, Off Hwy 211 (Green Swamp Rd) near Southport, NC, in Brunswick County. Visit www.anthillrange.com
CONTACT: Joe Moran, 910-520-5982, JJRMoran@juno.com
REWARD! Your $25 entry fee is refunded if you can outshoot your next Congressman!
Lots of details on the steel challenge format are at this link. And please print out this WANTED poster to hand out and invite folks!
Pantano is not the only one to use a shooting gallery as campaign spot in North Carolina. Earlier this year, another Republican candidate held a "machine gun social" fundraiser at a shooting gallery (read my piece about this event here). Here is Tim D'Annunzio, who ran for and eventually lost the Republican nomination for North Carolina Congressional District 8, and his ad about the fundraiser.
While D'Annunzio cannot boast of having faced and killed the enemy, Pantano uses his military record, including the Article 32 hearing, as evidence that he killed America's enemy and as a credential for his conservative values. He continues to defend his record despite the fact that his opponents during the primary, including Will Brezeale who is also an Iraq War veteran, have publicly voiced their doubts and concerns about Pantano and Pantano's credibility.
Consider this ad being aired in Southeastern North Carolina in which he boasts how he made the choices to leave his work and to serve the country, to fight the enemy.
Mike McIntyre, a Blue Dog Democrat and the 7-term incumbent, has stayed quiet on Pantano's record as a Marine. He has, however, attacked Pantano on his work at Goldman Sachs, which caused Pantano to run the above ad on his "choices."
Both McIntyre and Pantano have raised and spent record amount of funds for the campaign. Pantano's campaign is being helped by endless ads run by NRCC linking McIntyre to Pelosi (watch it here), the one that is also being aired in Ohio against Barron Hill (watch it here) and by ads aired by Americans for Prosperity.
The race is now considered a toss-up according to the latest polls.