WASHINGTON -- West Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant is not yet sold on legislation expanding background checks for gun purchases, even though one of the main backers of the bill is the man set to become her state's senior senator, Democrat Joe Manchin.
Last year, Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) teamed up to strengthen the gun background check system while still protecting Americans' Second Amendment rights. Manchin is considered one of the Senate's most conservative Democrats, and he and Toomey worked hard to reach out to Red State conservatives to convince them that the bill was not some gun-grabbing measure.
Despite widespread public support, the bill failed to pass the Senate after heavy lobbying by the National Rifle Association.
In an interview with MSNBC host Steve Kornacki set to air on his show Saturday at 8 a.m., Tennant indicated that if she been in the Senate at the time, she may have joined the four Democratic senators who voted against it.
Kornacki asked Tennant if she would support the Manchin-Toomey background checks bill if it came up for a vote while she's in the Senate. Tennant replied that she still had questions about it.
"You know, I am pro-Second Amendment, and I’m pro-Second Amendment rights," Tennant said, adding, "You know, it’s important that I go back, and depending on how that piece of legislation is written, that I go back and talk to West Virginians and say, 'How are we going to use this?' and "Does this fit for West Virginia?' Because what fits for West Virginia doesn’t fit across the country."
Kornacki then pressed Tennant on what changes she would like:
KORNACKI: But you surely have a sense of it now because he has been the face of this bill for more than a year now, you surely have a sense of where West Virginia is on it.
TENNANT: Well there’s already been some tweaks made to it. Also, especially for rural states, and that’s why it’s important to really take a look at this.
KORNACKI: At this point would you support it?
TENNANT: I don’t know what the new tweaks are, and what they wanted to add to it. But I think states should really be looking at it and how it affects them because it’s not a one size fits all approach, especially for West Virginia because we have tradition, it’s our heritage, and certainly that’s what I’ve been able- what I’ve been saying and who I am with the way I grew up and the way many West Virginians are. That we respect it, that we honor our ability to be able to have guns.
While Tennant's position may play well with conservative voters in West Virginia, it may cost her money from liberal donors outside the state, who are looking at where to spend limited resources this election cycle.
Tennant is facing Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) in the election to succeed retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). The winner of the race will be the first female senator to serve the state.
Capito said last year that she wasn't a fan of the Manchin-Toomey legislation.