Ranking the Conservatives
Wed August 8, 2007 10:03 am

The Texas Heritage Alliance has published its rankings of legislators according to their percentage of conservative votes cast. This is the group founded by Richard Ford, whose infamous Free PAC specialized in scurrilous campaign mailings that included, among other things, photos of men kissing. The list for the House is based upon 67 votes. Among those who worked with Heritage Alliance in picking the votes were former GOP legislators Rick Green (that's where, if I weren't looking for blogging material, I'd stop reading the list), Talmadge Heflin, Joe Horn, and M.A. Taylor.

90-100% (16)
B. Brown
Christian
Crabb
Eissler
Hancock
Harper-Brown
C. Howard
Laubenborg
Macias
Orr
Parker
Paxton
Riddle
W. Smith
Taylor
Zedler

80-89% (40)
Anderson
Aycock
Berman
Bohac
Bonnen
F. Brown
Callegari
Chisum
B. Cook
Corte
Crownover
J. Davis
Delisi
Elkins
Flynn
Hardcastle
Hartnett
Hildebran
Isett
Jackson
Keffer
P. King
Kuempel
Madden
Morrison
Murphy
O'Day
Otto
Patrick
Phillips
T. Smith
Solomons
Swinford
Talton
Truitt
Van Arsdale
West
Woolley
Zerwas

70-79% (15)
Creighton
Darby
Driver
Goolsby
Haggerty
Hamilton
Harless
Hill
Hughes
S. King
Kolkhorst
Krusee
Latham
Pitts
Smithee

0-69% (9)
Branch 69%
England 64%
Gattis 64%
Geren 61%
Jones 55%
McCall 66% (another inadvertent omission)
Merritt 66%
Mowery 51%
Straus 52%

Some comments:
1. Heritage Alliance had a mid-session list that was useless. Four of the eleven "conservative" votes required pro-Craddick votes in the process of electing the speaker on the first day of the session. But this list is pretty comprehensive. I did not check out every bill, but I recognized enough of them to agree that the selection is a fair representation of what most Republicans think is conservative.When half the Republicans in the House (40 out of 80, not counting the speaker) are in the 80-89 percent range, you have identified the mainstream. However, to get credit for a Republican vote, you had to vote against a bill creating a task force on global warming. I am somewhat skeptical about the dire predictions about global warming, but I would have voted for the task force. Why is voting not to study the potential effects on Texas a conservative vote? 2. When I first started working in the Legislature, I was told by a veteran lobbyist that the more predictable a member's vote is, the less influence he is likely to have. I think that rule holds true. Eissler is the only one of the sixteen lawmakers with the most conservative voting records who had a significant role in crafting public policy.

3. The leading anti-Craddick Republicans--Cook, Hill, Keffer, Pitts--have pretty solid conservative voting records. Cook and Keffer are in the 80s, Pitts is just short at 79%, and Hill is at 75%. McCall is in the group of the most independent voters at 66%.

4. Did anybody know that Anna Mowery, who has announced her resignation from the House, was the most moderate Republican in the House? I knew that she was a strong advocate of women's issues, but her 51% score came as a total surprise. Part of the reason had to do with age and health: Heritage Alliance regards absence as a "no" vote, even if a representative states in the Journal that he or she would have voted with the conservative position if present. But Mowery voted against school vouchers, for expansion of CHIP, for Eissler's dual language pilot program that had the right wing going bonkers. Good luck, Ms. Mowery. We'll miss you.

I'm not going to list all of the Democrats' "conservative" records, but I do think it's worthwhile looking at three groups: the Craddick Ds, the WD-40s, and the most liberal, which I am defining as a conservative voting record of less than 25%:

Craddick Ds conservative %
Bailey 37
Chavez 36
Deshotel 43
Dukes 31
Dutton 24
Flores 28
Giddings 31
Guillen 48
T. King 40
Lucio 36
McClendon 33
Pena 48 (inadvertently omitted in the original post)
Puente 37
Rose 45
Turner 39

WD 40s conservative %
R. Cook 54
Farabee 58
Frost 42
Heflin 58
Homer 52
Hopson 52
McReynolds 54
Pickett 52
Ritter 55
Rose 45

When you add Hispanics with conservative tendencies to this list, it grows longer:
Martinez 40
Quintanilla 45
Raymond 42

Least conservative %
Allen 22
Alonzo 19
Coleman 21
Y Davis 19
Dutton 24
Farrar 18
Hernandez 22
Moreno 03
Miles 24
Naishtat 24
Thompson 21

Any way that you read these numbers, the House qualifies as a very conservative body.

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