RALEIGH, N.C. — The conservative N.C. Civitas Action released their 2011 rankings of state legislators last week. The group’s rankings reveal a more conservative-leaning legislature than in years past, though the state’s only openly gay lawmaker and most other Democrats still took a hit in the group’s assessment.
Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, elected as the state’s first openly gay, African-American lawmaker last year, received an “F” grade from Civitas. That’s despite the group’s ratings of Brandon’s supposedly 14 “conservative” votes this year on topics like annexation, regulatory reform and eminent domain.
Brandon made light of the conservative rankings, which split primarily along party lines.
“I have never had an ‘F’ I was okay with… til today,” Brandon said via social networking site Twitter, adding the internet shorthand, “LOL.”
Rep. Earline Parmon, D-Forsyth, and Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, scored lowest on the conservative group’s rankings. Both lawmakers have been steady LGBT allies. Other low-ranking, high-profile LGBT allies included former House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange; Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland; Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford; Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth; and Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake.
Mecklenburg County’s state legislative delegation didn’t miss out. “F” and “A” grades were split evenly among party lines. Reps. Martha Alexander and Tricia Cotham scored the lowest among Mecklenburg’s House delegation. In the Senate, Sen. Charlie Dannelly scored lowest.
No Democrats in the Senate received above an “F.” All but four House Democrats, each of whom voted in favor of the anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples, received an “F.”
Regardless, Civitas Action says the legislature as a whole ranked significantly more conservative this year than in years past. The group’s Francis De Luca said Republicans’ takeover of the legislature helps to explain the more conservative bent.
“The main difference in this year’s rankings from years past is easily explained by the very nature of the legislative process,” De Luca wrote on Civitas Action’s website. “Legislators, by their nature, want to pass bills. When they are presented with liberal bills, as demonstrated in the preceding three years, they vote more liberally. When they are presented with more conservative bills, as represented in this year’s session, they are inclined to vote more conservatively, regardless of party. Legislators want to legislate – that means passing bills.”
See Civitas Action’s full 2011 rankings at civitasaction.org/all-legislators/2011/.