It was an expression of attitude, sure. A clear expression, and one in keeping with many active parts of the base. It was intended to raise money, and it evidently has.
But it showed too the tone-deafness that offers one reason Oregon Republicans aren't doing better. It's an automatic Facebook post and direct mail people for anyone not part of the gun advocacy crowd, which in Oregon includes a whole lot of swing voters.
The Multnomah County Republican Party is holding an auction: "AR-15 Raffle! Get Your Tickets NOW! The MCRP is raffling off a DPMS AR-15 - $10 per ticket or 12 for $100. Maximum tickets sold is 500. This is the PERFECT gift to slip into a father's day card!"
A KATU-TV news story about it quoted Jeff Reynolds, the county chair, as saying, "It's been very popular. To be frank, we could not make as much money with a TV as we could with an AR-15." Significant parts of the base, he suggested, are worried their guns may be taken away.
He's probaby right about all that.
Some miles to the south in Salem, Republican legislators have been stepping rather more carefully, in general, sticking to their ideas (and, generally, their base) while making the case for their points to others, especially people in the middle. They get some backing from the middle on PERS (the very costly Oregon public employee system), some traction in places on taxes and fees. Their recognizing that control of both chambers, now in Democratic hands, is very nearly on the bubble, and a modest breeze could give them control in 2014. (The Democrats seem, uneasily, to understand that too.)
But while the legislators move with some caution, other local party people seem not to.
Word of the raffle of an AR-15 - the same kind of weapon unleashed to deadly effect by a suicidal gunman at Clackamas Mall last winter - will appall people in Portland and the rest of Multnommah County. Okay, that's overwhelmingly Democratic to begin with. But it's not likely to play well either in the swing counties, notably very swingy Clackamas, where Republicans can easily get tagged as the gun nut party.
This wasn't a brilliant media maneuver by Oregon Democrats. This was a gift to them.