by Howard Stephenson
Two weeks ago in this column we reviewed the legislative voting scorecards of five different Utah lobbying groups. The analysis last time focused on the voting records of Utah’s 75 members of the House of Representatives. This week we’re publishing the five scorecards for Utah’s 29 State Senators.
When running for election, most Republican candidates like to say they are conservative and most Democrat candidates describe themselves as moderate — certainly not liberal. I suppose there aren’t many states where candidates like to describe themselves as liberal. However, the following analysis reveals who in the Utah Legislature is conservative and who is not.
Included here is a compilation of the legislative voting record rankings from five different interest groups in Utah, three “conservative” groups and two “liberal” groups. I appreciate Clair Ellis of Cache County for creating this compilation and allowing me to provide it for you. Here are the five organizations whose rankings are included: Utah Grassroots is an organization which attempts to hold legislators accountable for their votes regarding issues described in Republican state and county platforms. Accountability Utah is similar to Grassroots, but considered to be more extreme; exercising harsher judgement on conservative and libertarian issues than Grassroots. The Utah Taxpayers Association supports lower taxes and restraint in government spending. The Utah Education Association advocates for higher taxes for education and opposes competition in the education marketplace, including tuition tax credits. Voice for Moderation is a group organized by Republicans who ought to be in the Democrat Party but would rather try to change the Republican Party to be more liberal. They oppose guns, term limits, and tuituion tax credits and support floridation and environmental issues. Democrats receive As and Bs from this Republican group and Republicans tend to get Cs, Ds, and Fs.
The Four Most Conservative Republicans in the Senate
Out of 29 senators, there were four who were ranked among the ten most conservative senators on all five voting records. They were Republican Senators Bill Wright, Howard Stephenson, Bill Hickman, and John Valentine. Senators who appeared among the ten most conservative on four of five scorecards were Scott Jenkins, Tom Hatch, Michael Waddoups, and Curt Bramble. Senators David Gladwell and Parley Hellewell appeared in the top ten on three of the five scorecards.
The Five Most Liberal Democrats
There are only seven Democrat senators in the Utah Legislature and all but two of them were ranked consistently in the ten most liberal senators on all five scorecards. Those 5 liberal-ranked Democrats were Senators Ron Allen, Karen Hale, Gene Davis, Patrice Arent, and Mike Dmitrich. Two Democrat senators were ranked outside the ten most liberal on the Accountability Utah scorecard: Ed Mayne and Paula Julander. Thus, these two could be called the least liberal Democrats, at least as far as one of the five scorecards goes.
The Ten Most “Liberal” Republicans
Because in Utah, calling any Republican “liberal” would be a misnomer, this category could probably be labeled, “least conservative.” There were ten of the 22 Republican senators who scored in the ten most liberal category for one or more of the ranking organizations. They included, with the number of times they were in the 10 most liberal in parenthesis, Senators Pete Knudson (3), Greg Bell (3), Beverly Evans (3), James Evans (2), Chris Buttars (2), Dan Eastman (2), Leonard Blackham (1), Dave Thomas (1), Olene Walker (1), and Al Mansell (1).
If you would like more details about the issues which make up each organization’s scorecard, go to the organization’s website which is shown under each column heading.