Monday, February 27, 2012

Who’s the real conservative? By Sean Noble - NOBLE THINKING

February 25, 2012

Whenever two Republicans face off in a very Republican district, it always comes down to “who is the most conservative.”

When I was John Shadegg’s campaign manager in his first race in 1994, the candidate who was the presumptive nominee was former Scottsdale City Councilman and former Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Jim Bruner. Bruner is a successful guy and had served honorably in his positions. He was a classic establishment Republican, generally conservative, but willing to use taxpayer dollars to fund things like a baseball stadium.

The central issue in Shadegg’s campaign against Bruner was that he cast the deciding vote to impose a temporary tax on residents of Maricopa County to fund the construction of what became Bank One Ballpark – or BOB – and is now known as Chase Field. It was a huge gift to Jerry Colangelo who was trying to get a baseball franchise to Phoenix.

Shadegg’s other main opponent in the primary that year was Trent Franks, who at the time was a former one-term state legislator. Franks positioned himself as the “true” conservative in the race, primarily touting support from social conservatives in the district.

Shadegg obviously won that race, but then after 2001 redistricting, Franks ran and won in a new district. For eight years, Shadegg and Franks served in Congress together, which gives us an interesting test of who was more conservative.

According to National Journal Rankings, they tied for the most conservative Member of Congress twice, and in the other years, Franks ranked about 5 points more conservative on average. In that time, Shadegg and Franks were both in the top 3% of the most conservative Members of Congress.

So we can see that when Shadegg and Franks were battling over the “true conservative” label in 1994 they both ended up in about the same place.

As an aside, given that Salmon is running for Congress again, I compared Salmon and Shadegg in the 6 years they served together. Over the six years, Shadegg was on average 7 points more conservative than Salmon, but if you took the last three years of Salmon’s tenure, Shadegg was on average 14 points more conservative than Salmon.

Now to the main point.

This is very instructive for voters in the newly drawn Congressional District 6 and the race between Ben Quayle and David Schweikert. The latest National Journal rankings show that Ben Quayle is, in practice, more conservative than David Schweikert. And it’s not even close.

Check out the rankings. It scores how conservative members are on economic issues, social issues and foreign policy issues, and the overall rank in Congress.

Qualye isn’t just the most conservative member of the Arizona delegation, he’s the most conservative by a long shot. He scores 13 points higher than Schweikert who scores 1.2 points better than Gosar, 2.3 points better than Flake and 3.8 points better
than Franks. Quayle’s the most conservative walking away.

This is the kind of stuff that drives folks like Rob Haney crazy.
No matter how many times he called Shadegg a “RINO” over the years, it just didn’t stick because Shadegg was demonstrably conservative. And, Haney and his cohort’s heads are now exploding because their chosen candidate, Schweikert, is demonstrably LESS conservative than Quayle.

Damn those pesky things like facts.

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