With a supermajority of more than 60 percent in the state legislature, Republicans dominate the top spots in the new rankings of legislators’ effectiveness released today by the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research. President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) rank first in their respective houses. But, some of the most effective legislators in both parties will not be back in 2017.
Some of the Most Effective Legislators Will Not Return in 2017
At least 25 legislators who started the 2015 session will not be back in 2017.
Turnover continues in the legislature this year, even before the fall 2016 elections are held. At least 25 legislators who started the 2015 session will not be back in 2017. This includes some of the most effective members in both parties in both the Senate and the House.
Seven Senators – six Republicans and one Democrat – will not return in 2017. All six Republicans rank in the top half of the Senate rankings. These include retiring seven-term Senator and Rules Committee Chair Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), who ranks 2nd in effectiveness, and 8.5-term Redistricting Committee Chair Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), who ranks 5th.
Also retiring from the Senate are 13-term Sen. Fletcher Hartsell (R-Cabarrus), who serves as Program Evaluation Committee Co-Chair and ranks 15th; eight-term Appropriations Committee on Justice and Public Safety Co-Chair Stan Bingham (R-Davidson), who ranks 23rd; and three-term Appropriations Committee on Education/Higher Education Co-Chair Senator Dan Soucek (R-Watauga), who ranks 24th. Senate Judiciary I Committee Co-Chair Buck Newton (R-Wilson), who ranks 12th, and Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake), who ranks 30th and recently resigned, are not returning because they both are running statewide for Attorney General.
“The effectiveness rankings tell citizens how those who most closely work with and in the General Assembly view a legislator’s effectiveness during the session,” says executive director Nancy Richmond Rose. “Over the years,” she adds, “the key factors in a higher effectiveness ranking are being in the majority party, how many terms a legislator has served, being chair of a committee, and their personal skills in moving legislation.”
Eighteen Representatives, 10 of whom rank in the top half in effectiveness, also will not return to the House in 2017 – 12 Republicans, 5 Democrats, and one Unaffiliated. The highest-ranked Republicans who won’t be back are Speaker Pro Tempore Skip Stam (R-Wake), ranked 4th; 14-term Judiciary I Committee Chair Rep. Leo Daughtry (R-Johnston) at 6th; and Appropriations Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources Co-Chair Roger West (R-Cherokee) at 18th.
The top-ranked Democrat in the House and Ethics Committee Co-Chair, Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), ranks 13th. Glazier resigned in August 2015 near the end of the session. And, the highest-ranked freshman in the House, Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) at 55th, also will not be returning to the House in 2017 as he is making a bid for the state Senate.
Other House Committee Chairs who will not return are Agriculture Committee Co-Chair James H. Langdon, Jr. (R-Johnston), who ranks 41st; Appropriations Committee on Transportation Co-Chair Paul Tine (U-Dare) at 44th; Environment Committee Co-Chair Rick Catlin (R-New Hanover) at 47th; Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee Co-Chair Chris Whitmire (R-Transylvania) at 52nd; Judiciary IV Committee Co-Chair Jacqueline Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg) at 61st; and Appropriations Committee on General Government Co-Chair Rayne Brown (R-Davidson) at 63rd. Appropriations Committee on Education Co-Chair Bryan Holloway (R-Stokes), who ranks 48th, and Education-Universities Committee Co-Chair Brian Brown (R-Pitt) at 64th, both resigned in October 2015.
At least two more legislators may not return if they win their bids for Congress. Four legislators – Representatives John Blust (R-Guilford), Julia Howard (R-Davie), and Harry Warren (R-Rowan), and Senator Andrew Brock (R-Davie) – are running for the 13th Congressional District seat. Three more – Representatives Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), and Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenburg) – are running for the 12th Congressional District seat. All but Cotham are also running for re-election to the legislature. If any of them wins a seat in Congress, they will have to give up their state legislative seat.
The biennial effectiveness rankings are based on responses to surveys from the legislators themselves, from registered lobbyists based in North Carolina, and capital news media who regularly cover state government. The Center also released new rankings of legislators’ attendance and participation in roll call votes.