The pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) has released a scorecard of legislators from the recent General Assembly session, with most Republican legislators scoring 100 percent. In tallies that count votes, Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) and State Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) earned the highest scores based on the number of votes cast and who introduced legislation. The Virginia Progressive Legislative Action Network (VAPLAN) has also released a scorecard, finding that Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and Delegate Thomas Wright (R-Lunenberg) tied for most conservative in the House, while State Senator Steve Newman (R-Bedford) was the most conservative in the Senate.
“Congratulations to Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) and to Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) for having the best voting records in the General Assembly,” the VCDL wrote in an update. “And honorable mention goes to Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Mechanicsville) and freshman Delegate Marie March (R-Pulaski), who both came in 2nd place.”
“It was an unusual session, with one party controlling the House and the other party controlling the Senate – it means that anything that passed both chambers had to be universally unoffensive, or rely on strange coalitions,” VAPLAN reported.
In the VCDL’s ranking, Gilbert ranked the lowest of all House Republicans, only 65 percent pro-gun, and in the Senate, State Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) cast four “anti-gun” votes, earning a zero percent pro-gun score. As Speaker of the House, Gilbert gets scored in the VCDL for pocket vetoes on bills that don’t make it to committee, but in votes cast, he voted 100 percent in favor of gun legislation, according to the VCDL.
The VCDL said, “The highest [Senate] Democrats had a 33 percent voting record (Lynwood Lewis) and an eight percent voting record (Chap Peterson). All the rest of the Democrats in the Senate had a zero percent voting record on the basic civil right of self-defense. One Republican had a zero percent voting record – Senator Hanger. He had two chances to vote on a gun bill and voted wrong both times.”
In the VAPLAN ranking, Hanger and State Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) are the most moderate Senate Republicans, and State Senators Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomack) and Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) are the most moderate Democrats. Top moderates in the House are Delegates Carrie Coyner (R-Chesterfield), Bobby Orrock (R-Caroline), John Avoli (R-Staunton), David Reid (D-Loudoun), Danica Roem (D-Prince William), and Karrie Delaney (D-Fairfax). Top progressives included Delegate Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax) and State Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath.)
VAPLAN summarized: “With a 21-19 split in the Senate, and a Republican lieutenant governor, it meant that any single senator had the potential ability to be our own Joe Manchin. Often one of our Democrats did defect from the caucus – but interestingly in many of those instances, a Republican senator took his place voting with the Democrats. That led to some interesting votes in the Senate. On the House side, a number of Democratic delegates seemed to swing to the right, voting (in votes that didn’t matter because the GOP could pass whatever they liked) to repeal laws the Democratic majority passed the previous two years.”