How to Spot Campaign Conservatives

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Through the next few weeks, Republicans across the state will pound their chests and boasts of their commitment to limited government. 

You, the unlucky recipient of campaign literature and Facebook ads, will see and hear messages like this: 

I’m pro-gun.

I believe in limiting government.

I’m pro-life. 

I’m pro-family.

I’m a fifth-generation Idahoan who loves this state. 

Just you watch: Those phrases will become nearly ubiquitous in the coming months. 

But, you might ask yourself, if all of our lawmakers are so darn conservative, why does Idaho still have Medicaid expansion? Why did it take 10 years to extricate Common Core from our government schools? Why didn’t we get any tax relief in the 2020 session?

The answer to all those questions: Campaign conservatives. 

Campaign conservatives are a special breed of political critter here in Idaho. They don their American flag pins, profess fealty to Republican ideals, and then quietly vote like Democrats when the gavel drops. 

There is a way to spot these fakers, though. 

The Idaho Freedom Foundation released today its 2020 Idaho Freedom Index report, a comprehensive scorecard that details how lawmakers vote. (Click here to download the final 2020 Idaho Freedom Index report)

IFF analysts use 12 metrics or questions to score bills. (See the metric here) After IFF analysts score a bill, lawmakers vote and earn or lose points. If a lawmaker votes for a +7 bill, she earns 7 points. If he votes for a -7, he loses 7 points. And so on. 

This year’s Freedom Index reveals that many Republican, particularly a few in Eastern Idaho, fall in the Campaign Conservative category. 

Here are a few of the worst: 

Sen. Abby Lee, 46%

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, 46%

Rep. Jerald Raymond, 52%

Rep. Jarom Wagoner, 53%

Sen. C. Scott Grow, 53%

Sen Van Burtenshaw, 55%

Remember, a 55% means that the lawmaker voted for limited government only 55% of the time in the Idaho Capitol. 

Many lawmakers detest the Freedom Index. They think it’s unfair or biased or whatever.

But the truth is more sinister: These lawmakers don’t appreciate accountability for their votes. 

Consider that the 2019 Idaho Freedom Index scores aligned nicely with the 2019 American Conservative Union Scores. Thus, IFF’s scorecard isn’t an outlier. 

And keep in mind that whatever you think of the Freedom Index, lawmakers usually land in the final tally where you might guess they should. Hard left-wingers fall to the bottom every year, moderate Republicans and Democrats constitute the middle, and those committed to liberty rise to the top. Every. Single. Year. 

If you want fair, aggressive property tax relief, fewer regulations, and conservative governance, it’s time to dispense with the Campaign Conservatives. 

Visit the Idaho Freedom Index main page to research your lawmakers’ votes and read IFF’s bill analyses. 

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