Okay, I get it. He’s a nice guy– a true gentleman. It’s true. He’s a successful businessman. There’s no doubt about that. And yes, he’s certainly better than his opponent, Senator Heidi Heitkamp. But conservative? Not exactly.
You’ve probably noticed that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell is running a campaign branding himself as a “conservative outsider”, “conservative farmer”, and “conservative businessman”. You can see his ads here . It’s not a surprising campaign tactic. After all, North Dakota is considered a “red state”.
The trouble is that Campbell’s record in the North Dakota Senate doesn’t really seem to match the self-imposed label of “conservative”. Examples of why this is true are found in the recently released American Conservative Union Foundation’s (ACU) ” 2017 Ratings of North Dakota “.
Utilizing 18 bills to come up with their conservative rankings of the North Dakota Senate, Tom Campbell scored out at a paltry 53%. You’ll notice that he was absent for three of the bills. That means he scored positive on just 8 of the 15 votes he cast. Let’s take a brief look at the 7 votes he got dinged on.
1) ” SB 2180 Federal Education Mandates. This bill calls on the state and the schools of the state to refuse any federal funding conditioned on compliance with federal education mandates, conditions or requirements. ACU supports local control of education and supported this bill. The Senate defeated the bill on January 26, 2017 by a vote of 3-43.”
This bill was one of the first things written about on The Minuteman website way back in January. While 163 of the 179 school districts in the state had surplus funds that exceeded the amount of money received from the federal government, that wasn’t enough. The Senate – including Senator Campbell – decided they loved their Feducation.
2) ” HB 1094 Board of Barber Examiners Payments. This bill increases per diem payments to members of the Board of Barber Examiners by 60 percent to 100 dollars per day when they are meeting. ACU opposes this wasteful spending on licensing boards based on unneeded licensing requirements that are primarily designed to restrict competition and opposed this bill. The Senate passed the bill on February 22, 2017 by a vote of 44-2.”
Oddly enough, I wrote about the dying profession of barbering back in October . Not only are regulations of such an industry unnecessary, but in many cases they do more harm than good. A Board of Barber Examiners is not only not needed, but it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. And Campbell not only supported it, but voted to increase the per diem.
3) ” HB 1434 Insurance Mandate. This bill requires insurance providers to include coverage for ‘applied behavioral analysis’ to treat those who suffer from autism. ACU opposes these mandates that drive up the cost of health care for everyone and opposed this bill. The Senate defeated the bill on March 21, 2017 by a vote of 16-31.”
This one’s fascinating to me. Campbell has been critical of Senator Heitkamp for her stance on Obamacare — and rightfully so. Obamacare is America’s ultimate example of a government-meddling insurance mandate. Yet, at the state level, Campbell voted for… yeah, a government-meddling insurance mandate.
4) ” HB 1170 Asset Forfeiture Reform. This bill requires a criminal conviction before property can be seized from an individual and that funds received from the sale of seized assets be put in the General Fund rather than given to law enforcement. The ACU Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform and the Center for 21st Century Property Rights engage heavily on this issue. ACU believes property should not be seized without a criminal conviction and supported this bill. The Senate defeated the bill on March 30, 2017 by a vote of 0-46.”
This was one of the most awful displays of poor leadership in the 2017 Legislative Session. And Campbell was party to it. Not one Senator had the decency to stand up for personal property rights. Unbelievable and inexcusable. I wrote about this here .
“5) HB 1329 Freedom of Speech on Campus. This bill requires the State Board of Higher Education to develop policies protecting free speech on campus that include the confirmation of free speech as a fundamental right, reassures students that dissenting or disagreeing with generally accepted truth and knowledge is acceptable and essential to free debate and requires state institutions to allow peaceful assembly and expression of ideas. ACU believes the constitutionally protected right of free speech should not be confined to a restricted area and supported this bill. The Senate defeated the bill on March 31, 2017 by a vote of 7-37.”
What more can be said about this issue when we have elected officials – a vast majority of them in the Senate – that simply refuse to uphold the idea of Free Speech. Campbell missed his opportunity to stand up for one of the most basic fundamental rights.
6) ” HB 1201 Carbon Monoxide Alarm Mandate. This bill requires all residential rental property to include a carbon monoxide alarm. ACU opposes these government mandates that drive up the cost of rental property and opposed this bill. The Senate passed the bill on April 19, 2017 by a vote of 24-19.”
Continuing with a theme of not having a problem with regulation, Campbell decided that the Free Market isn’t capable of solving issues as trivial as whether rental properties contain carbon monoxide alarms or not. Instead, he decided the hand of government should slap a mandate on rental property owners.
7) ” SB 2010 Government Funding of the Arts. This bill appropriated $1.5 million to the North Dakota Council on the Arts which gives grants to programs in the arts approved by the government. ACU believes taxpayer funding of the arts is not a proper role of government and opposed this bill. The Senate passed the bill on April 19, 2017 by a vote of 36-6.”
Back in October, I wrote about the fact that Senator Carolyn Nelson (D – District 21) was given an award for her support of spending taxpayer dollars on the arts– I’m not kidding. Senator Nelson was recognized as the first ever recipient of the “Outstanding Woman State Legislator Supporting the Arts” award. I wonder if she acknowledged her Senate colleagues like Tom Campbell for helping her along in those efforts?
Instead of voting to appropriate $1.5 million to the North Dakota Council on the Arts, Campbell should have not only voted against it, but he should have been advocating for abolishing the council altogether.
Conclusion: How do these votes on bills in the State Legislature translate to the federal scene that Tom Campbell is seeking? Unfortunately, they translate perfectly. Taken as a whole, we have examples of his support for federal education, unnecessary regulation, cronyism, unnecessary spending, government-imposed insurance mandates, private property violations, failure to protect Free Speech, and the funding of departments and programs that that have no place in government and should be taken care of by the Free Market.
Call him what you will… a gentleman, a farmer, a businessman, but please– let’s not preface that by the word “conservative”. Because unfortunately, it’s simply not true. Unless a real conservative jumps in the race, I guess we may have to take solace in the fact that at least he’s not Heidi Heitkamp.