In North Dakota’s political circles, we often hear jokes and criticism from Republicans about our neighbors to the east in Minnesota being liberals. Yet, as someone recently pointed out to me, when it comes to a comparison of our state legislatures, it looks like North Dakota’s Republicans should be a bit more cautious when voicing such epithets.
At the end of last year, the American Conservative Union Foundation’s (ACU) “2017 Ratings of North Dakota” came out. Aside from limited government standouts like Representatives Rick Becker (R – District 7), Luke Simons (R – District 36), Sebastian Ertelt (R – District 26), Dan Johnston (R – District 24), and some others, the results were less than impressive. While 12 members of the 94-seat House scored 80% or better – with Becker and Simons being the only 100%ers – just one legislator in the 47-seat Senate made that list. That, of course, was Senator Oley Larsen (R – District 3), who came in at 83%.
With so many less than stellar individual ratings, collective scores for North Dakota’s Republican legislators weren’t impressive either. Senate Republicans came in at just 57% and House Republicans led the way with 65%.
Even with so much room for improvement in North Dakota, I have to admit my surprise when I took up the challenge to compare our Republican legislators to Minnesota’s. The results aren’t even close.
According to the ACU’s “2017 Ratings of Minnesota“, a whopping 74 members of their 134-seat House scored 80% or better. And in their 67-seat Senate, they boasted 34. Overall, Minnesota House Republicans scored a whopping 90% and Senate Republicans nearly equaled that with an 89%.
If we look at this in terms of percentages of Republican legislators to score 80% or better, it breaks down as follows:
North Dakota House (12.7%)
North Dakota Senate (2.1%)
Minnesota House (55.2%)
Minnesota Senate (50.7%)
What we see in Minnesota’s legislature is what appears to be a significant difference between Republicans and Democrats. That doesn’t seem to hold true for North Dakota’s. Take a look at the charts provided in each of ACU’s rankings and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
After we featured Representatives Becker and Simons’ 100% ratings last December, we ran another article pointing out that it often seems the wrong Republicans are criticized in NDGOP circles. I still believe that to be true.
For what it’s worth, it’s true that Minnesota has a Democrat for a governor. We don’t. And yes, Hillary Clinton eked out enough votes to win the state in the 2016 Presidential Election, while Trump coasted to victory here. Yet, when it comes to our legislatures, it’s not even close. The North Dakota legislature is inundated with people who just aren’t very conservative.
So, next time you hear someone criticize Minnesota for being a “bunch of liberals”, remind them that we have plenty of room for improvement in North Dakota. Maybe they’ll be as surprised as I was to learn that Minnesota’s Republican legislators are far more conservative than ours.