The National Rifle Association is backing Texas Rep. Pete Sessions in his primary battle against Dallas tea party leader Katrina Pierson, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The gun rights group's endorsement of Sessions, chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, came just hours after it was revealed that Sen. Ted Cruz had praised Pierson at a rally in the Lone Star State.
"Gun owners and hunters have a strong ally in Pete Sessions,” said Chris Cox, chairman of the NRA Political Victory Fund. “Pete has stood for principle over politics and has fought efforts to undermine our gun rights by anti-freedom zealots like Mike Bloomberg and President (Barack) Obama.”
The NRA recently gave Sessions a Defender of Freedom Award for his ongoing legislative fight for the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, the Morning News reports.
"I’m honored to have the continued support of the NRA,” said Sessions. "The Second Amendment is a right guaranteed in our Constitution and defending this right is vital to protecting our freedoms as Americans."
Over the weekend, Cruz followed in his father's footsteps by throwing his support behind Pierson in her primary race against the longtime incumbent -- even though the freshman senator is not calling it an actual endorsement.
"Katrina Pierson is an utterly fearless principled conservative," Cruz declared
while failing to give any such praise to Sessions.
Cruz's comment at a rally in Allen, Texas, echoed a statement last week by his father, Pastor Rafael Cruz,
who said that Pierson was "a strict constitutionalist." At a fundraiser for her, Rafael added, "She's a strong conservative and she wants to do what's right."
And although it may sound like a ringing endorsement to many observers, Sen. Cruz's spokeswoman Catherine Frazier backed off any official support, saying, "He has not endorsed in this race and remains unlikely to get involved in any incumbent primaries."
But Pierson, who was a "super volunteer" for Cruz's campaign for the Senate against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, was brought close to tears by the senator's support. "I was proud of his willingness to embrace me and who I am,” she said. "I almost cried."
Pierson, however, is expected to have a tough time ousting Sessions from Congress in the March primary.
Last month the NRA endorsed
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas in his tough primary challenge from Rep. Steve Stockman, a tea party conservative.
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