The Arizona Legislature has several new members this year, including conservatives who are sticking to the platforms they got elected on. The Arizona Republican Assembly (AZRA) released ratings this week of how the legislators are performing so far this year and said their expectations that it would be “the most conservative Republican Caucus in memory” are proving to be accurate. State Senator Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff) scored the highest, 98.5.
AZRA, which describes itself as “the conservative mainstream of the Republican Party,” said in a statement, “The voting record of top twelve and the bottom ten rated House Members are the members we expected to be there. The Senate results are nearly identical on a percentage basis — the top six and bottom six are exactly who we expected to achieve that ranking.”
State Representative Alex Kolodin (R-Scottsdale) scored the highest in the House with 97.9. The highest scorers after Rogers were also in the Senate; State Senator Justine Wadsack (R-Tucson) at 98.5, State Senator Janae Shamp (R-Surprise) at 98.3, with State Senator Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), State Senator Anthony Kern (R-Glendale), and State Senator David Farnsworth tied at 98.2.
The following highest House members were State Representative Rachel Jones (R-Tucson) and State Representative Justin Heap (R-Mesa), tied at 95.6, State Representative Austin Smith (R-Glendale) at 95.5, State Representative Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) at 95.4, and State Representative Laurin Hendrix (R-Gilbert) at 94.7.
The lowest-scoring Republicans in the House were State Representative Kevin Payne (R-Peoria) at 85.2, State Representative Matt Gress (R-Phoenix) at 86.3, State Representative David Livingston (R-Peoria) at 86.6, and State Representative John Gillette (R-Kingman) and State Representative Selina Bliss (R-Prescott) tied at 87.9.
The lowest-scoring Republicans in the Senate were State Senator Ken Bennett (R-Prescott) at 92.6, State Senator Frank Carroll (R-Sun City) at 93.6, State Senator Steve Kaiser (R-Phoenix) at 94.1, State Senator John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) at 94.5, and State Senator David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista) at 95.7.
The highest-scoring Democrat was State Representative Christopher Mathis (D-Tucson) at 36.6, and in the Senate, the highest scorer was State Senator Eva Burch (D-Mesa) at 4.3. The lowest-scoring Democrat was State Senator Sally Gonzales (D-Tucson) at 0; in the House, the lowest scorer was State Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (D-Tucson) at 15.9.
Kolodin, Wadsack, Shamp, Jones, Heap, Smith, who all scored highly, are brand-new legislators this year. Bliss and Gress, who scored low for Republicans, are also new legislators.
There were a few surprises. State Representative Liz Harris (R-Chandler), a newly elected conservative legislator known as the “Canvass Queen” for her work championing election integrity, only achieved the ninth-highest score in the House due to her refusal to vote on bills unless the legislature takes steps to redo last year’s botched election.
State Representative T.J. Shope (R-Florence), who usually ranks about the lowest Republican legislators on these scorecards, scored the eighth highest in the Senate, even ahead of Petersen.
AZRA provided a detailed explanation of its scoring. Some types of votes are weighted more heavily than others. Final votes on the floor are weighted the heaviest, with five points, with miscellaneous motions on the floor weighted the least, one point. That number is multiplied by the weight given the bill, which ranges from a high of 10 for election integrity bills to a negative 10 for HB 2072, which would allow voter registration on Election Day.
Most of the highest-scoring legislators also scored near the top in similar rankings. In 2022, one senator and seven representatives scored 100 percent in the Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s ratings. They were State Senator Warren Petersen (R-Mesa), Hoffman, Parker, State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), State Representative Neal Carter (R-Casa Grande), State Representative Beverly Pingerelli (R-Pingerelli), and former State Representative Judy Burges (R-Prescott).
The Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona rated Hoffman and Carter the highest in the House last year, tying at 106, and Petersen received the highest score in the Senate, 102. The American Conservative Union rated Hoffman 100 in 2022, which he also received in 2021, his first year in office. Petersen and Chaplik also received a 100 in 2022.
AZRA states about its new scoring system, “The AZRA Scorecard is the only resource that specifies in advance which bills are being scored so legislators KNOW how their upcoming vote will impact their ranking before they vote.” AZRA began rating the legislators on February 26.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Wendy Rogers” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 3.0. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.