“Some legislators may be effective in constituency service or representing their home district, but not very effective on a statewide basis — on the big issues,” Guillory said. “So sometimes local effectiveness may not be reflected in the survey.”
Sen. Ellie Kinnaird — No. 48
Sen. Ellie Kinnaird. D-Orange, ranked 48 out of 49 ranked senators this year.
She said she opted not to fill out the survey this year because she knew the results would reflect who had the power and majority. She said her liberal views did not help.
“Whoever wins are the ones at the top, and whoever loses are the ones at the bottom,” Kinnaird said. “I’m the most far left liberal in the (N.C.) Senate, and they went to the farthest right with social issues. You can imagine I don’t have much to say that they agree with.”
Kinnaird said it is difficult to pass legislation in the minority party. The different social agendas between the parties, especially on abortion, gay marriage and education budget cuts, make compromise improbable, she said.
Rep. Verla Insko — No. 106
Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, ranked 106 of the 120 N.C. House representatives. She said in an email that she was not shocked by the rankings, due to her speaking out against Republican objectives.
“I was not surprised by my precipitous fall in the rankings,” she said. “I spoke out strongly against the majority party budget cuts to education, Medicaid and services to women and children. I know a lot about all these programs and was able to make effective points opposing the cuts.”
Insko also highlighted her view that majority leaders often rank high because of their leadership in debates and decision-making power.
She cited a “war on women and the poor,” pointing out that, with a few exceptions, Democratic women and minorities ranked below 90 in both houses.
Sen. Richard Stevens — No. 3
Although compromise is often an obstacle, some legislators like Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake, have remained productive no matter which party has the majority. Stevens ranked number three this year and 13 in 2009 when the Democrats held the N.C. Senate majority.
The senator said most legislation, such as regulatory reform and the budget, is passed on a bipartisan basis. Only 10 to 15 percent of issues are more partisan, he said.
Stevens attributed his success to striving to work with both parties. He said there are two ways to be effective while in the minority.
“You can be the contrarian and oppose everything the majority is doing and hope your turn comes some day to do it the way you want to do it,” Stevens said. “Or you can see if there are ways that you can work with the other side and find common ground and do things that are positive for the state. I chose the latter.”
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