Earlier we posted the end-of-session vote rankings for the ND House of Representatives for the 63rd Legislative Assembly. We learned that, even in this the more conservative of the two chambers, alignment of the purported Republican super majority with the conservative values the party supposedly cherishes is far from reality. This is not overly surprising given that many in office who call themselves Republicans do so only because they know they can’t win elections by running as members of the Democratic-NPL Party (where their ideologies and voting records in fact actually more closely align).
Enter the Senate, which is a very odd (for lack of a better term) assembly of politicians, and has been so for many years. Few bills entering this chamber (with the exception of maybe increased spending on higher education) ever has a certain outcome, as unpredictability is the only thing predictable about the actions of the Senate. Still, this chamber contains a super majority of Republicans, but based on their voting records this session it would appear as if liberal democrats were firmly in control of this body (and maybe that is because they just may be).
Similar to the House, we at SAB have had the opportunity to break down the voting records of the ND Senate based on “marker bills” selected at crossover (see the House post for explanation). The results are … well, pretty sad to say the least. As we mentioned previously, no method of vote analysis is perfect, but the marker bill one seeks to discover trends in ideology of each member as well as the chamber as a whole. The trend was a far cry from the conservative values supposedly upheld by the party in decisive control of the Senate.
Overall the scores, even among the “top tier” Republicans, were not that high. Not surprisingly, several NDGOP members ranked below many Democrats. But, in what can be called nothing else but outright embarrassing, one NDGOP member ranked at the absolute rock bottom of the list for all intents and purposes, below all Republicans AND all but one Democrat. Senator Judy Lee of Fargo managed to stay out of the cellar by 0.19% over Senator Phillip Murphy, and most likely because she was absent for more marker bill votes than he was. Either way, it is nothing to be proud of, but not surprising from this NDGOP Senator.
Here is how the rankings broke down from most conservative to least:
Both voting records cap off what has been one of the most disappointing legislative sessions in recent history. Ultimately, responsibility lies with the electorate for sending these representatives to Bismarck from their districts in the first place. But, when so many legislators run as Republicans to get elected but then govern like Democrats; and with too few truly conservative people running for office to begin with (probably because they are too busy generating the prosperity needed to feed the voracious appetite of state government), that electorate isn’t given many good choices to work with.