Arp: Punishing the Recalcitrant
by Jason Arp
The 2022 legislative ratings have been released at IndianaScorecard.org, an independent measure of votes on bills affecting private property and personal liberty. Although the results can be read as encouraging, the political control of the establishment remains terrifying. The overall scores in the house shifted upwards from an average of 38.0 to 50.6, the Republicans improving 13.1 points to 56.4 as the Democrats moved up from 10.7 points to 35.0.
Again, while the scores improved, the control of the Republican leadership grew more assertive. The vote distribution of Republican members tightened to a remarkable 6.6 point standard deviation from the previous 9.3 points. This puts the two high scores over four standard deviations above the mean. (A fuller discussion of scoring is in the current issue of The Indiana Policy Review.)
In yesterday’s primary, those who dared vote differently from the GOP caucus were challenged by the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC). John Jacobs, a first-term incumbent and the high scorer on our scorecard his first two sessions, was targeted with a well-funded primary challenge in a district that had already been dramatically redistricted by his fellow Republicans. Jacobs, who represents a portion of south Indianapolis, faced a challenger who received half a million dollars of direct funding from the HRCC. Jacobs got 36.1 percent of the vote yesterday.
Facing similar opposition was Curt Nisly, a representative from the Warsaw area who was put into a district with another incumbent. Nisly scored second highest on IndianaScorecard.org the last two sessions after leading for a several years. Nisly’s signature bill allowing Hoosiers to “constitutionally carry” firearms passed this session after seven years of introductions and floor fights. His challenger yesterday received a quarter of a million from the HRCC. Nisly got 26.9 percent of the vote.
What is clear is that the GOP establishment will not tolerate dissent and will try to ideologically cull its herd. The fact the House Republican Caucus is willing to spend three quarters of a million against two of the state’s most conservative legislators should be of concern to Indiana voters.
There were two dozen challengers in other house races running under a “Liberty Defense” banner. Of those, only a couple were successful. Lorissa Sweet defeated longtime incumbent Dan Leonard in the district that straddles Wabash and Huntington county. Fred Glynn in the Carmel area won in an open primary.
At the end of the day, we learned that money may not be able to buy you love but it can buy an election.
Jason Arp, for nine years a trader in mortgaged-backed securities for Bank of America, was reelected last year to his second term representing the 4th District on the Fort Wayne City Council. He is the designer of the legislative scoring system, IndianaScorecard.org, and an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation.