WASHINGTON, D.C. – Most of you who pay attention to politics and keep a watchful on politicians after they get off the campaign trail know that the Old North State has sent a handful of politicians to Washington for which a conservative can have pride…and others that make you want to bang your head against a wall.
The most recent conservative rankings published by Conservative Review confirm that dichotomy, leaving us to shake our heads on one hand, but have some hope on the other.
First, a handful of reasons to believe North Carolina is a bright future full of conservtive leadership.
Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Mark Meadows sits atop the entire delegation with his conservative score of 98 percent. That makes him tied for second in the House, only bested by the 100 percent score of Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY).
While some truly conservative members of congress get easily marginalized by the Establishment, Meadows has achieved a position of prominence that should not be underestimated. As leader of the Freedom Caucus he has leveraged the group’s voting power into a high degree of influence, while also forming close relationships with the president.
Next on the list from NC are Reps. Ted Budd (95%) and Walter Jones (88%). These two lawmakers represent two ends of the spectrum. Jones, in his self-proclaimed last run for office, is a career politician with massive incumbent advantages that’s actually managed enough adherence to conservative principles to perpetually frustrate the Establishment. Budd, a conservative businessman, is just wrapping up his first term in office with a solidly conservative voting record, but is viewed as vulnerable in the 2018 election.
The rest of the NC Republican House delegation fills out as you’d expect:
George Holding (80%); Mark Walker (79%). Richard Hudson (70%); David Rouzer (68%); Virginia Foxx (64%); Robert Pittenger (51%); and Patrick McHenry (47%).
Notice how the more seniority or leadership-oriented they are, the more abysmally rated. McHenry serves as chief deputy whip for the House Republicans, meaning he is up to his eyeballs the Swamp. He’s one of those politicians that maintained loyalty to the conservative campaign talking points for a couple years, but ultimately (and predictably) sold out to the Establishment in order to climb the status ladder.
Pittenger was defeated in his primary by Mark Harris, not least of which because of his horrible track record reflected in his 51 percent score.
On the Senate side, the results were no surprise – Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr are huge disappointments from a conservative perspective. Both of them scored worse than McHenry, the lowest rated House member from North Carolina, and he was already below 50 percent.
Burr clocks in at 42 percent. Sad.
Tillis drops even further from his most recent, and still horrible, score to just 38 percent. There is a reason he has proudly adopted the RINO label. He only beats the highest ranked Democratic senator, California Liberal and rumored presidential contender Kamala Harris, by five points.
In fact, Burr and Tillis rank 36th and 37th out of only 51 senate Republicans with their Swampy liberty scores.
The good news is that there’s plenty of time for a solid primary challenge to Mr. Tillis. The bad news is we’ll have to wait until 2020.
The best takeaway, however, is that North Carolina’s Republican congressional delegation, despite the stark blemishes, has a few very bright spots when it comes to conservative leadership. And with Speaker Paul Ryan retiring next year, there just might be an opportunity for a conservative Tar Heel to replace him.