Raleigh, N.C. — Republican members of both the House and Senate occupied the top 10 slots in the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research's annual rankings of the most effective General Assembly members.
It's hardly breaking news that members of the legislative majority who occupy key committee slots do well in rankings of which members wield the most power and influence. But two years ago, Rep. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, managed to crack the top 10 in the state House. During the 2011-12 legislative session, Republicans needed help from some conservative Democrats to override Gov. Bev Perdue's vetoes.
During the 2013-14 legislative session, Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, and a Republican occupies the governor's mansion, all-but sidelining Democrats on partisan issues.Still, there are a few notable tidbits to be found in this year's rankings:
- As previously reported, Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, was the only member of the state House to cast every recorded vote taken in 2013.
- Some of the highest-ranked lawmakers will not return to the General Assembly. Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, was ranked third most powerful in the Senate but has already surrendered his seat. Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, who is a chairman of the powerful appropriations committee, is not running for re-election.
On the House side, Speaker Thom Tillis, who ranks No. 1 in the chamber, is running for U.S. Senate and will not return to his House seat. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, the influential Republican conference leader, ranks No. 5 on the list but is not running for re-election.
- Rep. Jim Fulgham, R-Wake, ranked as one of the two most effective freshmen in the state House.
- Republicans first elected in 2010 saw their rankings jump substantially in this year's survey. For example, Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, jumped 46 places in the survey, from 66th during the 2011 session to 20th during the 2013 session. Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, jumped 22 places, to the No. 11 spot in the state Senate this year.
- The highest rated Senate Democrat was Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, at No. 17. The highest rated House Democrat was Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland.
- The lowest ranking House Republican was Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, who got attention for publicly criticizing Tillis and then later apologizing. The lowest ranking Senate Republican was Sen. William Cook, R-Beaufort.
One final note: In the news release announcing the rankings, Center for Public Police Research staffers took note that the likely contenders for state House Speaker next year are all in the top 15. They include Reps. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, David Lewis, R-Harnett, Dollar, Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, and Leo Daughtry, R-Johnston.