The National Rifle Association has its sights on some Tennessee Republicans because of a measure that wasn't passed into law during the last legislative session, and now it's taking a very public stand.
The NRA promised there would be political repercussions if the so-called "Guns in Parking Lots" bill failed, and now a billboard shows the group is willing to put its money where its mouth is.
"It's a joke to put my picture up with President Obama's," said State Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville.
Maggart is engaged in a hotly contested primary race with Tea Party candidate Courtney Rogers.
The NRA has put in an unprecedented $75,000 into the race, with the hopes of defeating Maggart.
"The message we're trying to send is that, despite what Debra Maggart says as a politician, actions speak louder than words," said Chris Cox, with the NRA.
The billboard compares Maggart's gun record to Obama's, even though just a year ago, Maggart had an "A+" rating from the NRA.
"Debra Maggart almost single-handedly killed a piece of self-defense legislation by refusing to allow an up or down vote," Cox said.
However, that claim is being disputed by other Republican leaders.
"That's just an inaccurate statement. I had a lot more to do with killing that bill than she did," said State Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga.
Maggart said the legislature is trying to work out a compromise on the Guns in Parking Lots bill, but added they won't be bullied by a group that isn't interested in compromise.
"We have an outside beltway Washington lobbyist trying to buy the election in Tennessee. I did not single-handedly kill their bill. We just want to weigh gun rights versus property rights, because we are focused on jobs in this state," Maggart said.
The NRA said it is also sending out mailers and will have ads prior to the primary.
Rogers said protecting the Second Amendment is very important to her, and there needs to be more of a focus on allowing people to protect themselves.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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