Rifle Raffle: Mainer Running for Congress Is Raffling Off an AR-15 to Raise Money

Former Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey's raffle celebrates the fourth anniversary of a law he helped pass allowing Mainers to carry concealed handguns without a permit, he said.

A Maine candidate for Congress is trying an unusual, controversial way to raise money.

Former Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey is raffling off an AR-15 rifle to anyone who signs up to make monthly donations to his campaign.

"There was no real debate about it," said Brakey, when asked how he landed on the rifle raffle. "I think it's a very good idea."

The raffle celebrates the fourth anniversary of a law he helped pass allowing Mainers to carry concealed handguns without a permit, Brakey said.

"I'm the proven defender of the Second Amendment," he said.

Despite recieving support and raising money, even the candidate himself admits he's gotten some mixed reviews in various Facebook comments and newspaper editorials, some even from people who say they own guns.

"There's been a lot of support but also some pearl clutching from some folks as well," Brakey said.

The negative reaction is something other Republicans say Brakey should expect from his own party.

Phil Harriman, a Republican political analyst for NBC affiliate NEWS CENTER Maine, said he's not sure all voters, conservative, liberal or independent, view the AR-15 as positively as Brakey does.

"Kudos to him for coming up with something that's got people talking," said Harriman. "I often wonder, though, is some of this going to backfire? I think the negative connotation is still there. People hear the name of the type of weapon and they come to the conclusion of mass shootings."

The campaign didn't consider raffling off different weapons, Brakey spokesman David Boyer said.

"We were always planning to use the AR-15 for this fundraising effort to highlight the fact there is no functional difference between an AR-15 and your grandfather's hunting rifle," said Boyer. "Any debate about limiting or prohibiting our constitutional rights should be grounded in facts, not emotions."

To address any safety concerns, whoever wins the raffle will have to pass a federal background check before they pick up their rifle, Brakey said.

That winner's name will be drawn on Nov. 17.

Brakey is one of three candidates trying to win a Republican primary in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, including Adrienne Bennett, who was a spokeswoman for former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, and Dale Crafts, a former Maine state lawmaker, who already has LePage's endorsement.

The winner of that race will run to for the seat held by Democratic Congressman Jared Golden.

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