Scorecards Pinpoint Most Conservative and Liberal Legislators

So, who are the most conservative and liberal members of the 2015 Legislature?

UtahPolicy looked at three groups that annually rank legislators after the January-March general session ends – GrassRoots, the Utah Taxpayer Association, and the Utah Education Association.

And the winners (or losers, depending on your political point of view) are (drum roll, please):

Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, and Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, on the conservative side.

And Sen. Jim Dabakis, and Reps. Patrice Arent and Rebecca Chavez-Houck; all D-Salt Lake, on the liberal side.

Roberts and Dayton were liked by the GrassRoots and the Utah Taxpayers Association, and they faired poorly in the UEA rankings – thus their combined conservative listings by UtahPolicy.

Likewise, Dabakis, Arent, and Chavez-Houck did poorly in the GrassRoots and taxpayer rankings and did well in the UEA rankings, getting 100 percent approval by the teacher group.

Now, the UEA would say they are not ranking for liberal votes, but for support of public education and teachers. Still, one can see the differences in politics between the UEA and GrassRoots and the Utah Taxpayers Association.

The 2015 Legislature is an especially good measure on political philosophy since there WAS a tax increase vote for education this year – the property tax hike for equalization in school building costs.

Tax hikes are usually opposed by the Utah Taxpayers Association and Grassroots.

Here is the UEA’s ranking of senators in 2015.

And here is the teacher union’s ranking of 2015 House members.

Here is the GrassRoots ranking.

And here are the Taxpayers Association rankings.

GrassRoots also ranks the governor.

And the group gives what it calls “lifetime” rankings, or a comparison of sitting lawmakers and their rankings by GrassRoots since they have been in the Legislature. GrassRoots starting ranking in the mid-1990s, so most sitting lawmakers’ whole careers are ranked by the conservative organization.

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert gets a 41 percent “correct” action ranking by GrassRoots for the 2015 Legislature, and a lifetime ranking of 50 percent. Last year Herbert did poorly, only 21 percent ranking by the group.

At 50 percent that’s the best lifetime conservative ranking of recent governors – Govs. Jon Huntsman Jr. and Mike Leavitt, both Republicans, got much lower rankings by GrassRoots.

Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, did the worst in the UEA rankings, getting only a 17 percent approval rating.

Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, got the highest UEA rating for a Republican, 91 percent.

In the House, Reps. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, and Doug Sagers, R-Tooele, both got 100 percent ratings from the UEA.

Nine House Democrats got 100 percent on the UEA scale.

Seven House Republicans got the lowest UEA ratings at 33 percent. Interestingly enough, new House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, also got a low UEA rating at 38 percent.

Hughes has had some run-ins with the UEA before, leading the ultimately failed battle in favor of public school vouchers back in 2007-2008.

While Dabakis’ GrassRoots score was low at 29 percent, surprisingly Shiozawa’s 17 percent ranking was the lowest in the Senate for the conservative group.

And Senate Majority Assistant Whip Peter Knudson, R-Box Elder, got only a 33 percent ranking by GrassRoots, second lowest for a Republican.

So, with the highest UEA score and the lowest GrassRoots score, Shiozawa, an emergency room doctor, must be considered the most moderate GOP member of the Legislature.

Every House Democrat got 100 percent from the Utah Education Association. So no differences there.

Moving to Democrats on the GrassRoots and taxpayers scales, Reps. Susan Duckworth, R-Magna, got a 35 percent rating and Rep. Brad King, D-Price, got a 32 percent rating from GrassRoots.

They both got 81.8 percent ratings by the taxpayer group.

And so Duckworth is the most conservative Democrat, with Brad King close behind.