NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Tennessee's most powerful Republican, Governor Bill Haslam has stepped into the middle of a battle between two conservatives and the nation's largest gun rights lobby.
Governor Haslam has thrown his support behind incumbent Debra Maggart. Maggart, who is running for State House District 45 seemingly, has two opponents this election cycle: Courtney Rogers, and the National Rifle Association.
Governor Haslam is going to the front lines of a battle. One of his key Republicans fighting off a $100,000attack from the NRA and another gun rights group.
"We've put up ads and billboards comparing Debra Maggart and Barack Obama. That's because while both say they support our second amendment rights, they both worked against our freedoms behind closed doors," said Chris Cox, with the National Rifle Association.
The NRA believes Maggart worked behind closed doors to defeat a bill that would have allowed people to keep guns in their vehicles while at work. It's a claim she's long denied, saying she only wanted to study the issue further.
"I think Debra is taking heat for doing something where she was really trying to find the right answer of supporting business interests, as well as second amendment rights, which she believes in both. If the decisions were easy we'd go into session and be done in a week, and I think Debra worked hard to get to that answer," said Governor Haslam.
"I am not against guns I have a gun permit, my family owned a business that sold guns, I sponsor a skeet shoot every other year, I am very pro second amendment, but I am also pro property rights," explained Maggart.
The NRA has backed opponent Courtney Rogers and she has been getting the sort of name recognition a candidate can only dream of. She insists however that if elected she won't owe the NRA anything.
"I am not beholden to them because I already think that way, I have not been compromised. The NRA is a group of citizens trying to defend their second amendment rights, so it's not like they are some organization trying to get special privilege," said Rogers.
State Senator Kerry Roberts has also come out in support of Courtney Rogers. He did so during a radio show on Friday.
"I am so appreciative of the confidence placed in me by Senator Roberts, said Rogers as she walked to the next house on Friday. "He is greatly respected in Sumner County as a man of principle and fairness. It's a shame that he was drawn out of my district. It would have been an honor to serve with him in the General Assembly."
Roberts lives in Robertson County, and recently lost his Senate seat to redistricting.