Monday I could almost hear the voice of the late state lawmaker Cary Allred echo in my head. The reason? The latest effectiveness ratings of state legislators compiled by the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research were released.
And to say the rankings usually rankled Allred, who served nearly 20 years in Raleigh, would be a vast understatement.
He absolutely hated it. And he didn’t care much for NCCPPR Ran Coble, either. I could almost hear the expletives.
I understood why. Allred, who passed away in December, accurately believed that the method used by the NCCPPR skewed toward whatever party was in control of the General Assembly. After all, the majority party makes committee assignments and manages how things are done. For all of Allred’s tenure in Raleigh, that control was in the hands of Democrats. He had few if any friends there. As a result, Allred usually landed near the bottom of the 120 House members in the survey. In 2007, for example, his ranking was 114.
He also thought it measured the wrong things. He believed a representative’s effectiveness should boil down to more than plum committee assignments, chairmanships and responses to surveys from the legislators, registered lobbyists, and news media. For Allred, those measurements are all a bunch of hoo-ha.
To Allred’s way of thinking, a big part of a lawmaker’s effectiveness should truly be measured by what they do for constituents. Voters in a district have a whole different way of looking at this effectiveness thing than those folks trapped inside the Beltway.
On this, Allred and I agreed.
The latest rankings reflect Allred’s belief that party power is essential to advance in the NCCPPR listing. For years, Democratic Rep. Alice Bordsen of Mebane ranked in the middle-range and was never above 100. In 2009, she was 52nd. In 2011, after the historic GOP takeover of both the House and Senate in 2010, she was 112th.
Allred would have enjoyed her response to a Times-News reporter’s question about the survey when she said the rankings didn’t interest her and did not impact how she does her job.
In 2011, Republican legislators with previous legislative service improved their rankings. On average, Republican senators moved up 20 spots, while Democratic senators dropped an average of 14 spots. In reality, it’s a measurement of power.
By the way, Rep. Dan Ingle, who replaced Allred in the House, ranked 58. Freshman state Sen. Rick Gunn checked in at 33rd among the 50 senators.
On Monday I wondered if Allred would like the NCCPPR rankings any better now that the GOP is in charge. I decided that he probably would not. He would still favor doing things for people in his district over managing a bill in committee.
From where I sit, the name of the rankings is also questionable. Effectiveness and power aren’t the same things.