The American Conservative Union (ACU) today issued its first-ever ratings of the Nevada Legislature. ACU, whose ratings for members of Congress are highly-regarded among conservatives, had never before rated members of state legislatures.
Five state Senators from the 2011 Nevada Legislature, all Republicans, received the “Defender of Liberty” award, given to those achieving a perfect 100%. Greg Brower, Don Gustavson, Elizabeth Halseth, Michael Roberson and James Settelmeyer all received perfect scores in the ACU’s rating system.
No member of the Assembly achieved a perfect score. Richard McArthur’s 94% was the highest received by a member of that body.
In addition to the “Defender of Liberty” awards, two Senators and six members of the Assembly, all Republicans, were recognized as “ACU Conservatives” for attaining a score of 80% or better. Senators Barbara Cegavske and Mike McGinness along with Assemblymen John Ellison, Ed Goedhart, John Hambrick, Ira Hansen, McArthur and Mark Sherwood were honored as “ACU Conservatives.”
The ACU rating was based upon legislators’ votes on 15 pieces of legislation in the Senate and 16 in the Assembly that, according to the group, were “chosen to create a clear ideological distinction among those casting them,” according the ACU.
The organization “tracks a wide range of issues before Congress and State Legislatures to determine which issues and votes serve as a clear litmus test separating those legislators who defend liberty and liberal members who have turned their backs on our founding principles – constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and traditional values.”
In a reflection of the ideological divide of the state, only one Republican scored less than 50% and just two Democrats achieved ratings greater than 20%. Republican Assemblyman Lynne Stewart received the lowest score of any member of his party, at 44%. Democrat Senators Allison Copening and John Lee tied at 25% for the highest score among members of their party.
Just one member of the Legislature, Democrat Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, was given the ACU’s “True Liberal of the Silver State” award for receiving a 0% rating.
This is the first year the ACU has scored state legislators and it is including only five states – Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia – in its initial group of ratings.