South Dakota Citizens for Liberty have expanded their scoring of legislators from the Second Amendment review posted in July to an assessment of votes on around twenty bills from the 2017 Session.
“There are lots of scorecards out there, but most of them are more narrowly focused than ours.” said Mike Mueller, President of SDCFL. “We evaluate the votes of all 105 legislators over a broad spectrum of bills that represent issues people care about.” The group uses the provisions of the South Dakota and US Constitutions and the planks of the state and national Republican Party platforms as an evaluating guide. What is unique to this effort is the inclusion of committee votes in the group’s in-depth online chart that features links to the bills and the legislator’s state website page [Citizens for Liberty, press release, 2017.10.09].
Amusingly, the top scorer in the House is SDCFL President Mike Mueller’s wife, Rep. Julie Frye-Mueller (R-30/Rapid City). She gets a 91.7%, with just two votes that SDCFL calls blue/liberal out of 22 listed for House members: Rep. Frye-Mueller voted for Senate Bill 59, which delayed enactment of voter-approved ballot measures until July 1 following the election, and she voted for House Bill 1069, which repealed Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act.
I agree that Rep. Frye-Mueller’s votes on those two bills were wrong. However, I beg to differ with SDCFL’s classification of those yeas as liberal. Given Republican sponsorship of both SB 59 and HB 1069 and given we Democrats’ strenuous opposition to both of those anti-initiative measures, I might argue that nays on both of those bills are truly liberal positions, because we liberals stand for the liberty of the people to make their own laws by initiative, without interference by overreaching legislators. Better yet, I might argue that votes on those two bills don’t fit a typical conservative-vs.-liberal scorecard. We might have to characterize them on a classical reading of our party labels: republicans want a republic, in which legislators temper the whims of the unruly massers, while democrats prefer democracy, in which the people retain as much power as possible over their elected officials and have the final say at the ballot box on issues as well as candidates. Perhaps elitist-vs.-populist would be better.
Citizens for Liberty do show they are not following a typical party-label paradigm. While the top half of their House rankings are all Republicans, their bottom ten are not all Democrats. Only two, District 1’s Reps. Steven McCleery and Susan Wismer, are among the bluest ten. Eight of those rock-bottom liberals are Republicans: Reps. Rozum, Johns, Reed, Hunhoff, Tieszen, Stevens, Turbiville, and—the only zero on the House card—Lance Carson.
Likewise in the Senate, while the top sixteen are all Republicans, led by Senators Stace Nelson and Lance Russell, the bottom ten include only two Democrats, Senators Reynold Nesiba and Craig Kennedy. The Senate’s bluest members include red-dog Senators Haverly, Partridge, Cronin, Soholt, Rusch, Peters, White, and Tidemann.
But wait a minute: CFL stars Senator Deb Soholt and marks her green with “No Party Affiliation.” What’s up with that? She’s part of the Republican caucus, proudly tagged R on her Legislative webpage, but apparently, since right after last year’s election, she’s been registered as “No Party Affiliation.”
Vote605 confirms that status this morning.
SDCFL lists several other Republicans as former Democrats: Senators Maher, Novstrup, Kolbeck, Solano, and White and Representatives Goodwin, Rhoden, Schoenfish, Glanzer, Rozum, Reed, and Hunhoff. SDCFL appears not to have dug into Democrats’ records to find how many of them (like me over a decade ago) may have once been registered as Republicans.