Home Virginia Politics Far-Right-Wing “Middle Resolution PAC” Virginia Legislative Ratings Are Out. Although Highly Flawed,...

Far-Right-Wing “Middle Resolution PAC” Virginia Legislative Ratings Are Out. Although Highly Flawed, They Do Provide SOME Indication of the VA Gen. Assembly Ideological Spectrum.

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The far-right-wing “Middle Resolution PAC” – check out who runs this thing, including craaaazy Dave Brat’s former Chief of Staff, and the former Elections Chair for the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation – is out with its Virginia legislative rankings/scorecard, hot off the presses (see screenshots, below). Although there are numerous weird/flawed aspects of “Middle Resolution” PAC’s methodology, I think these are useful – if carefully parsed – in getting at who the most and least progressive Virginia legislators are. First, a few caveats, then some comments on the ratings.

  • I’ve thought for years about doing scores/rankings, but the problems have been figuring out what to score (floor votes? if so, which ones? committee/sub-committee votes? leadership in other ways?) and how to get the data in a way that’s
  • easy to use. Then, even if I could get all that information, how much time/effort would it take? My guess is a LOT. So I haven’t done it. Nor has almost anyone else, which is a big part of the reason why I’m reporting on the “Middle Resolution” PAC’s scores, even if it’s a far-right group and even though they’ve got some serious “issues” with their methodology.
  • As you can see below, “Middle Resolution,” far-right/Tea Party PAC that it is, has some warped priorities. By far and away their biggest one this past session – and weighted accordingly in their scores/rankings – was Medicaid expansion, and specifically being OPPOSED to Medicaid expansion. So basically, if you voted FOR Medicaid expansion, your score/ranking will immediately be very low. With one exception, that being…
  • …Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), who I’d generally consider to be a strong progressive, is rated very highly (e.g., more conservative) by “Middle Resolution” PAC. How can that be, you ask? Very simple: because Del. Rasoul voted AGAINST the budget/Medicaid expansion bills, HB 5001 and HB 5002 in April, which are the bills that “Middle Resolution” appears to have scored, before switching to “yea” on the final FINAL votes in the May special session. But WHY did Del. Rasoul vote against HB 5001 and HB 5002 back in April? Because, as he explained at the time, he didn’t like the work requirements component of Medicaid expansion. In other words, Del. Rasoul voted against HB 5001 and HB 5002 back in April FROM THE LEFT, FOR PROGRESSIVE REASONS. So “Middle Resolution” scoring Rasoul’s votes on these two bills as a positive from their perspective is clearly illogical. Take away those two heavily weighted bills, and my guess is that Rasoul would fall precipitously in “Middle Resolution”‘s scoring.
  • Remember; in looking at the “Middle Resolution” scores/rankings, the higher the further right/the worse, the lower the more progressive/the better. 
  • Finally, I’d note that the bills “Middle Resolution” chose to “score,” and how heavily they weighted those bills, massively skews its scoring/ranking system. Thus, “Middle Resolution” cares a TON about Medicaid expansion (which they strongly oppose), making it harder to vote (which they strongly support), and “parental choice” in education (which they strongly support). Overwhelmingly, the group’s scores cover those three areas: Medicaid/Affordable Care Act, voting and education — and all in bad ways from a progressive perspective. So keep in mind as you look at these scores that “Middle Resolution” didn’t include anything, as far as I can tell, on a whole host of issues, from gun violence prevention to women’s reproductive freedom to environmental protection to…you name it, basically. In short, these scores/rankings are interesting, but highly flawed.
  • With that, let’s turn to the scores…and a few things that jumped out at me.
  • First, note that Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R), from a strongly “blue” district which Ralph Northam won by 15 points, received a 100% score from far-right “Middle Resolution,” ranking him #1 out of all 140 Virginia General Assembly members in right-wingnuttiness. Next year, Sturtevant – who is wildly out of tune with his district – should be target #1 for Democrats in our efforts to win back the State Senate.
  • Also note that Delegates Ben Cline (R) and Nick Freitas (R), both of whom were gearing up to run for higher office, score just lower than 100%. Not to say that they weren’t far-right before this year, but still…for anyone who claims that these guys are some sort of “moderate” or “establishment” Republicans, give me a break.
  • The 52 “top-ranking” (aka, most right-wing) Virginia state legislators are all Republicans, not surprisingly. We’ve already discussed Del. Sam Rasoul (D), who ranks #53 because of his votes – from the LEFT – against the budget/Medicaid expansion. So that one’s flawed and should basically be ignored.
  • The most “moderate” Virginia Republican State Senators, at least based on these scores/rankings, appear to be Senators Ben Chafin (58.3%), Jill Vogel (56.7%) and Emmett Hanger (42.9%).
  • There’s then a big jump “down” (aka, in the LESS conservative direction) to Sen. Creigh Deeds (D), who clocks in at 28.7% – the most conservative Democratic State Senator. Believe it or not, House Speaker Kirk Cox scores LOWER (aka, less conservative) than Deeds, at 28.4%, as do Del. Chris Jones (R) at 27.0% and Del. Terry Kilgore (R) at 26.1%. Probably because of those three Republicans’ support for Medicaid expansion, I’d guess. In reality, they are all significantly more conservative than Deeds, if you look at all kinds of social issues, from LGBT equality to a woman’s right to choose to…
  • We then get to the #2-#4 most-conservative Democratic State Senators according to “Middle Resolution” – Sen. George Barker (26.2%), Sen. Dick Saslaw (25.6%) and Sen. Chap Petersen (24.4%) – ahead of a slew of House Republicans, including Delegates David Yancey (25.0%), Chris Stolle (24.8%), Glenn Davis (24.5%), Bob Thomas (23.2%), Chris Peace (23.2%), etc.
  • Now, we finally get into almost all Democrats, with relatively conservative Dems like Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Lynwood Lewis, Sen. Rosalyn Dance, Sen. Monty Mason and Del. David Bulova at the top, all scoring over 20%.
  • A few other relatively “moderate” Democrats (according to the “Middle Resolution” PAC scores) include Sen. Scott Surovell (19.6%), Del. Mark Sickles (18.7%), Sen. Lionell Spruill (18.1%), Sen. Jennifer McClellan (18.1%), Del. Cia Price (18.1%), Sen. Barbara Favola (18.1%), Del. Schuyler Van Valkenburg (17.8%), Sen. Louise Lucas (17.2%), Del. John Bell (16.7%), Sen. David Marsden (16.5%), Del. Mamie Locke (16.1%), Del. Luke Torian (15.9%), Del. Debra Rodman (15.6%), Sen. Jennifer Wexton (15.5%), Sen. Jeremy McPike (15.3%), Del. Jennifer Boysko (15.3%), Del. Mark Keam (14.9%), Del. Steve Heretick (14.6%), Del. Lashrecese Aird (14.3%), Sen. Adam Ebbin (14.2%), Del. Joe Lindsey (14.1%) – all over 14%. Note that a few of these don’t make much sense to me, including Surovell and Ebbin…as far as I’m aware, they are strong progressives.
  • The most progressive Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly, according to “Middle Resolution” PAC’s interesting-but-flawed scoring/ranking system are (in reverse order from #140): Del. Dawn Adams (6.5%), Del. Mark Levine (6.7%), House Democratic Leader David Toscano (8.7%), House Democratic Whip Alfonso Lopez (9.1%), Del. Patrick Hope (9.2%), Democratic Parliamentarian Marcus Simon (9.4%), Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (9.4%), Del. Mike Mullin (9.5%), Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring (9.5%), Del. Danica Roem (9.7%), Del. David Reid (9.7%), Del. Kathleen Murphy (9.7%), Del. Wendy Gooditis (9.7%) — all under 10%. Interesting, by the way, that House Democratic Leader Toscano scores as significantly more progressive than Del. Jennifer Boysko, who is busy plotting a leadership “coup” these days. Hmmmm…
  • What else do you find interesting in these scores/rankings? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section. Thanks.