In 2010, I had the opportunity to serve as a Page in the Arizona House of Representatives. I remember sitting on the House floor as legislators debated another government program. Democrat lawmakers argued that as stewards of the people, they had to support this government program. Andy Biggs, a State Representative at the time, stood up and responded with a Goldwaterish statement: “We [legislators] are not stewards of the people, we are stewards of their liberty.” Ten years later, Andy Biggs’ statement remains imprinted in my memory because it perfectly sums up the philosophy I look for in elected officials. The primary purpose of government is to protect liberty.
Almost three years ago, I teamed up with a few other libertarian-leaning Republican activists and we founded an Arizona chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus. We wanted to create a platform to promote the liberty-minded Republicans in the legislature, while establishing a support system to help elect more of them. We do this in a variety of ways; we follow the legislature on a daily basis and post video highlights and action alerts on social media. We also publish an annual legislative scorecard which tracks the voting record of each legislator. This allows us to easily inform voters of their representation in the legislature. It allows us to reward the pro-liberty legislators, while keeping the others accountable.
The Republican Liberty Caucus works within the Republican Party to advance the principles of individual liberty, limited government, and free markets. As we’ve spent the last three years advocating for these principles, we identified a handful of Republican legislators who are reliable champions of liberty. Warren Petersen, Travis Grantham, Bret Roberts, Michelle Ugenti-Rita, and Shawnna Bolick; these are a few of the legislators who have consistently scored at the top of our legislative scorecards. We also identified a few Republican lawmakers who, in our opinion, have room for improvement. However, the subpar Republican legislators are still considerably better than Democrats.
On our 2020 Liberty Index legislative scorecard, Republicans in the House had an average Liberty Score of 88. In contrast, House Democrats averaged out to a score of 29. That is a massive 59 point spread between Republicans and Democrats. The lowest scoring Republican (Noel Campbell) scored 69, which is still significantly better than the highest scoring House Democrat at 50. Over in the Senate, the situation is very similar. The average score among Republican Senators is 72, while the average for Senate Democrats is 22. The two lowest scoring Republicans in the Senate tied at a score of 45 (Kate BrophyMcGee and Heather Carter). The highest scoring Senate Democrat was much lower, at 28.
As we approach the November general election, it is important to highlight these differences between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans are hoping to maintain a narrow 17-13 majority in the Senate and a razor-thin 31-29 majority in the House. If Republicans lose just one seat in the House, and two seats in the Senate, they lose control of the legislature. Democrats are determined to make this a reality. If they succeed, they will drastically change the agenda at our state capitol. It’s clear from their voting records: Democrat legislators aren’t stewards of liberty.
To be honest, there have been many times when I’ve been disappointed in Republican legislators. That’s why at the Republican Liberty Caucus, we work to keep our party focused on liberty, above all else. Your Republican legislators may have cast a few votes you disagreed with, and you may be tempted to withhold your vote; but we need to look at the big picture. If we truly care about individual liberty, limited government and free markets, we must support all Republican legislative candidates in every district across the state. If we don’t, there will be many consequences. It sounds cliche, but Arizona truly is at a crossroads. If Arizona is to remain a free and prosperous state that truly values life and liberty, we must defend our Republican majority in the legislature. As John Adams wrote in 1775, “Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
Ben Beckhart is the Secretary/Treasurer for the Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona. View the 2020 Liberty Index and see how your legislators scored: here.