Our Conservative Legislature

by | Jan 20, 2016 | 2016 Elections, Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features, NC Politics, NCGA | 15 comments

The American Conservative Union is out with new scores for various state legislatures around the country. Conservatives should be quite pleased with North Carolina: our State Senate averaged a conservatism score of 71%, and our State House scored 62%. Legislatures in our neighboring states of Virginia and South Carolina received much lower rankings. (On the other hand, our legislature is full of granola-eating liberals compared to Tennessee.)

A number of legislators – all Republicans, of course – received a perfect score. In the Senate, those were: Kathy Harrington, Joyce Krawiec, Mike Lee, Buck Newton (running for Attorney General), and Dan Soucek (retiring). 100% conservatives in the House: Marilyn Avila, Mark Brody, and Jonathan Jordan.

Then there are the legislators who scored a big fat 0. All Democrats of course, and all in the State House: Shelly Willingham, Darren Jackson, Paul Luebke, and Robert Reives. In the more conservative Senate, Democrats were more conservative as well, with none scoring a 0. The lowest scoring was Val Foushee, who received a score of 11%.

In the Senate, the lowest scoring (most moderate) Republican was Fletcher Hartsell, who scored 56%. No wonder he found himself in a competitive primary contest. With Hartsell out, his successor is likely to be much more of a conservative – or less willing to be bipartisan, depending on which description you prefer.

The highest scoring Democrat was Ben Clark, who represents a majority black district based around Fayetteville. He scored a 78%, an eye-popping number from a Democrat. Not surprisingly, he’s also facing a primary.

In the House, the lowest scoring Republican was Charles Jeter, who frequently is the lone GOP vote against numerous bills. Like him or not, Jeter’s moderate record makes him the only possible Republican who can get reelected in his Democratic-leaning seat.

And the highest scoring Democrat, not surprisingly, was William Brisson, one of the last of a dying breed of yellow dog conservative Democrats. Brisson’s seat is the GOP’s for the taking once he leaves. Heck, he’s practically a Republican already.

The new ratings can be found here. Expect primary challengers, especially on the GOP side, to cite these numbers as they move forward with their campaigns.


  1. Ebrun

    Good post, D.G. You provide the classic stereotype of a partisan ideologue. Glad you to see you remain in character.

  2. TbeT

    D.G., unless you have some rationale for calling Republicans names like Eli Whitney, Thomas Alva Edison, or George Forman, please limit your future descriptions of all things Republican to scurrilous “invective.” Thanks!

  3. Ebrun

    Well c’mon, D.G., out with it! What scurrilous inventive are you going to hurl next at Republicans? I thought you’d pretty much used all up the inflammatory insults you could think of in previous comments. But if there’s more vitriol on your mind, why not share it with us?

  4. Norma Munn

    Just curious, but how does the job creation of the three states you mentioned line up? If memory serves (and I am not positive that it does), SC is ahead of NC in job creation during these past three or four years. What is average income now in NC compared to SC and VA? Want to compare teacher’s salaries? Children uninsured? Children living in poverty? These may not all be the best way to compare these three states, but perhaps someone has the data handy because from what I see, “conservative” certainly does not equal compassion, nor serious financial acumen.

  5. Cosmic janitor

    So Wynne is proclaiming that the republikans should wear their badges of shame with honor – how typical. Just to keep things honest, the right-wing republikans in the NCGA are anything but ‘conservative’; they are pro-corporate ‘Zealots’. Conservatives have a conscience!

  6. David Scott

    As long as each party celebrates its extremist elements and condemns moderation, our state and federal governments will remain in dysfunction. Both parties and ALL our citizens suffer as a result.

  7. Apply Liberally

    So what’s new here? Scoring from a right-wing organization finds that NC right-wingers are very right-wing. It’s of “dog bites man” interest. Having trouble finding pithy topics/angles to write about, John?

    But I will admit that one of your sentences really did get to the reality –and also to the inanity– of the ACU’s ranking system. That was when you wrote: “With Hartsell out, his successor is likely to be much more of a conservative – or less willing to be bipartisan, depending on which description you prefer.” With that, you basically pointed out that the less bipartisan—and, as such, less willing to reach across the aisle, to be open-minded, and to seek compromise—the higher (i.e., “better”) one’s ACU ranking would be. And that’s what is so very wrongheaded, mean-spirited, and un-American with the GOP nowadays…….

    • Ebrun

      When it comes to reaching out to compromise, the NC GOP legislators should use the example of Obama and the Washington Democrats. But wait, maybe they have. Don’t remember any “reaching out” when the Dems rammed Obamacare through Congress with no GOP support. In fact, I can’t think of many examples where Obama has reached out to compromise with his opposition, except perhaps with Iran and Russia.

      • Troy

        And since the Republicans took over Congress, I don’t remember any reaching out from that side of the isle. In fact Mitch McConnell stated that very premise that he was not going to compromise with this President and he was working hard to ensure that he was going to be a one term President. Who was the minority leader when he said it. That’s how confident he was.

        How’d that work out for Mitch? He didn’t stop the re-election, but he got to be majority leader. Of course, Boehner’s golf outing with the President may have very well cost him the Speakership.

        Could Republicans have had input on AHA? Sure, but they were unwilling. They knew what the fallout would be. Could they have offered a plan of their own? Sure they could have, but they were content then and content now with “things from the dark ages” which wasn’t much of a way at all. We end up paying one way or the other. Either through inflated pass-through prices for healthcare or through insurance. So “rammed down their throats” is overstated and terse, to say the very least.

        • TY Thompson

          ” In fact Mitch McConnell stated that very premise that he was not going to compromise with this President and he was working hard to ensure that he was going to be a one term President.”

          Yeah, that was just food for the rubes in his Party. In reality, he and Obama are business partners. Look how efficiently they teamed up to get the Trans Pacific Partnership up and running.

          • Ebrun

            But I thought that Republicans in Congress wouldn’t cooperate with Obama? At least, that’s what Democrats claim.

          • Troy

            I still hold the opinion that this President has been a moderate Republican, based on his economic, labor, and trade policies. So, his meshing with McConnell on TPP isn’t that unbelievable.

      • Troy

        I erroneously attributed a quote to you Eb that you didn’t make. I apologize for that. Rather than “rammed down the throats” you said “rammed Obamacare through Congress.”

        I stand self corrected.

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