The Pols Are Out And So Are Their Grades: American Conservative Union Releases Virginia General Assembly ScorecardMay. 16, 2013
The General Assembly wrapped up its 2013 business, officially, April 3, at the conclusion of the "Veto" session. Since then, a flurry of scorecards have been released by several organizations, including the Family Foundation's late last week. Usually released throughout the year to coincide with fundraising galas, elections or other events, many organizations this year dropped their ratings in advance of the Republican Convention this weekend and the June Democrat primary. Today, the American Conservative Union released its third annual Virginia General Assembly Scorecard (click here for complete results). The ACU, founded in 1964 by a coalition of prominent national conservative organizations, is known for its annual Congressional Scorecard, considered the "gold standard" of Congressional ratings. In 2011, it decided to take that success to the state level, with a goal of annual rating all members in each of the 50 state legislatures. That year, it graded five, Virginia being the first of those (this year it will score 20). Consequently, the General Assembly is the first to be scored three times — more firsts for the Old Dominion.
The ACU Scorecard offers three awards: Defender of Liberty Award, for those who score 100 percent; the ACU Conservative Award for those who score above 80 percent, and the not-so-coveted True Liberal of the Commonwealth Award for those who get a zero — and there are a few of those. However, the number of members in both chambers who scored 80 or higher dropped precipitously, with some who have reputations as conservative stalwarts not even even getting to 80 percent.
The reason? Not only were there several immensely important and substantive votes this year on significant policies with massive ramifications, they were voted on multiple times. For instance, the tax increase bill (HB 2313) was voted on three times (scored twice). An ironic twist is that the House budget, which normally rates as a support because of its pretty tight spending parameters and policy language, was opposed by the ACU when it came out of conference committee with the Senate, specifically because the rejection of the Medicaid expansion was stripped out. That also got a second vote because of a gubernatorial amendment. The Obamacare health insurance exchange also made the list and several conservatives got nicked on that, as well.
The ACU Virginia Scorecard is not only the most comprehensive one of its nature in Virginia — complied annually, with more than 20 floor votes on everything from spending, taxes, education reform, securing voting rights, second amendment rights, religious liberty, right to work, life and marriage, and all else that make up the conservative agenda, it's one the most comprehensive state scorecard in the country, as many legislatures, especially part-time ones, rarely let so many significant votes get to the floor. The ACU only scores floor votes and does not score unanimous or immensely lopsided votes, nor partisan votes, with the exception of significant policy shifting bills.
On behalf of the American Conservative Union, I am pleased to announce the winners of our 2013 State Legislative Ratings for members of the Virginia General Assembly. For 40 years ACU has set the gold standard for Congressional ratings, and we are now able to offer that same level of transparent information to the voters of Old Dominion so they can hold their elected officials accountable at the state level as well. In our third year rating the Commonwealth, we applaud conservatives in the Virginia General Assembly who continue to fight against higher taxes, against Obamacare and for the rights of the unborn.
The ACU's philosophy in its scorecard system is to track . . .
a wide range of issues before state legislatures to determine which issues and votes serve as a clear litmus test separating those representatives who defend liberty and liberal members who have turned their backs on our founding principles — constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and traditional values. The votes selected for our Virginia Legislative Ratings were chosen to create a clear ideological distinction among those casting them.
The Defenders of Liberty Award winners are:
Delegates Rob Bell, Ben Cline, Scott Garrett, Todd Gilbert (TFF Legislator of the Year Award winner), and Margaret Ransone; and Senators Tom Garrett, Jr., Mark Obenshain and Ralph Smith.
ACU Conservative Award winners are Delegates Richard Anderson, Richard Bell, Kathy Byron, Mark Cole, Barbara Comstock, John Cox, Mark Dudenhefer, Matt Fariss, Peter Farrell, Greg Habeeb, Chris Head, Tim Hugo, Sal Iaquinto, Steve Landes, Jim LeMunyon, Scott Lingamfelter, Bob Marshall, Jimmie Massie, Jackson Miller, Randy Minchew, Israel O’Quinn, Brenda Pogge, David Ramadan, Roxann Robinson, Nick Rush, Beverly Sherwood, Lee Ware, Jr., Michael Webert, Tony Wilt, and Tommy Wright, Jr.; and Senators Richard Black, Steve Newman, Richard Stuart, Bryce Reeves, Steve Martin, Bill Stanley, Jr., and Ryan McDougle.
The highest scoring Democrats were Delegates Johnny Joannou and Joe Joe Johnson at 73 and 64 percent, respectively. The both topped some Republicans, such as Delegate Chris Jones, who scored only 60 percent. Delegate Jones wasn't alone. Speaker Bill Howell only managed to match Delegate Joannou. Senate Republicans saw similar slippages. For example, Senators Jeff McWaters and Frank Ruff, who had scored at least 80 in the first two scorecards, dropped to the low 60s. Majority Leader Tommy Norment and Senator Harry Blevins, who retired recently in mid-term, scored 60 and 57 percent, respectively. Senator John Watkins rated a dismal 48 percent.
Last year, more than 70 Republicans from both chambers scored 80 percent or higher. This year, only 45 did.
The members who earned the True Liberal of Old Dominion Awards are Delegates Delores McQuinn and Roslyn Tyler; and Senators Kenneth Alexander, Janet Howell and Linda Puller.
Repeal Amendment Defeated, Property Rights On Hold In Senate P&EJan. 18, 2011
This morning, the Senate Privileges and Elections Sub-Committee on Constitutional Amendments voted 4-3, on a party line vote, against SJ 280, the Repeal Amendment. The proposed resolution would, if enacted through a constitutional convention called for by state legislatures, allow a super majority of states to repeal federal laws and regulations. Those voting against the resolution by Senator Ryan McDougle (R-4, Hanover) were Senators Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath), Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington), Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico) and Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk). Voting in favor were Senators Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), Ralph Smith (R-22, Botetourt) and Jeff McWaters (R-8, Virginia Beach). Oddly, much of the debate by witnesses was between conservative groups. While many limited government advocates want to re-balance the federal structure between the states and the central government in Washington, D.C., others are concerned the constitutional convention the resolution calls for would open up a loophole to amend other areas of the constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights. However, there is a House version of the resolution, HJ 542, patroned by Delegate James LeMunyon (R-67, Chantilly) and backed by House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksburg), that should make it through the House, setting up a second round in the Senate.
Another important proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution, SJR 307, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain, (R-26, Harrisonburg), which would protect citizens' property from the dangers of eminent domain by state and local governments and public service companies, was carried over to next week. That gives property rights and limited government grassroots activists more time to contact members of this committee.
Virginia News Stand: December 7, 2009Dec. 07, 2009
Annotations & Elucidations Ooops. We're Taking You To Court, Instead.
Of all things: The mysterious Know Campaign, which planned on a mass mailing, prior to the election, telling recipients that their neighbors vote, so why don't you? last week told the State Board of Elections it would cooperate with its investigation and disclose who made available to it a Voter Vault list, of which only certain people — including elected officials — have access, but now says it is going to court to block having to supply said information. Hmmm. As Jerry Seinfeld would ask, "Who arrrrrrrre those people?"
Meanwhile, the GOP celebrates, the Dems deliberate and Jeff McWaters will be the new senator from the 8th district. Also, some are floating the idea of ending the car tax reduction to balance the budget. That takes a lot of nerve, but, unfortunately, it's not surprising. Some never can read election results, even when it hits them in the face.
In Analysis and Commentary past and future elections are evaluated, as the Washington Post picks Virginia's own, U.S. Representative Tom Perriello (D-5) as the fifth most likely incumbent/defender of a party's seat, to lose in next year's Congressional elections, and former Governor Doug Wilder explains why Creigh Deeds lost. (Why isn't ever why Bob McDonnell won?) Also, the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Jeff Schapiro takes a look at one of the most powerful men in the General Assembly — Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights) — and the many cards he has to play.
McDonnell and GOP celebrate victories (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Victory bash: GOP rallies in Williamsburg (The Daily Press)
Kaine tells Democrats not to dwell on the past (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Deeds thanks Dems, exhorts party to keep fighting (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)
End to car tax relief on table to plug budget hole (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)
McDonnell watches cash during transition (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
GOP picks McWaters to run for Va. Senate (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)
Nonprofit sues to avoid disclosing donors (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)
Spotlight centers on Cox (Jeff Schapiro/Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Change you can count on: Five key districts (Chris Cillizza/Washington Post)
Wilder: Why Creigh Deeds Lost (Doug Wilder/Richmond Times-Dispatch)