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Science confirms TX Watchdog’s RINO test

By   /   May 13, 2013  /   No Comments

Last month, I whipped up a RINO detector test that found there were only six true believers in freedom out of all the Republicans in the state House.

State Rep. Bill Zedler joins a group of elite freedom fighters, sort of.

State Rep. Bill Zedler joins a group of elite freedom fighters, sort of.

Science has now confirmed those findings.

I admitted that my three-vote litmus test was rather glib, but it turns out that the six Republicans it identified for their exceptional commitment to liberty are indeed just about the most conservative members of the state Legislature.

Mark P. Jones of Rice University, among the state’s most distinguished political scientists, just published an analysis of 173 “non-lopsided roll call votes” cast in the House. (He takes out the lopsided votes because a lawmaker’s feelings about Puppy Appreciation Week and other such official declarations don’t tell you much about his politics.)

Jones’ list identifies six Republicans as a bit more conservative than the rest of their colleagues. Five of those names were also on my shortlist, which was based on three votes during the floor debate on the budget, one each corresponding to the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and fiscal conservatism.

Those five are Reps. Matt Krause, Matt Schaefer, Jonathan Stickland, and Scott Turner, all freshmen, and Jodie Laubenberg, now in her fourth term.

The sixth member who passed my test, Rep. Scott Sanford, came in one notch down on Jones’ list, replaced by Rep. Bill Zedler in Jones’ top six.

Of course, the idea of an actual right-to-left continuum in politics is a bit silly, as American politics don’t revolve around one particular axis. We have two general, often conflicting ideas – freedom and equality – driving much of our political history.

While advocates of equality often fight amongst themselves over what the principle demands, the ideal of freedom isn’t nearly so problematic. I suppose that’s why it’s so easy to pick out the folks who really believe in it.

—Jon Cassidy

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Jon Cassidy is the Texas bureau chief for Watchdog.org. He also writes a weekly column on politics for The American Spectator. He was formerly a reporter and editor for The Orange County Register in California and a reporter at The Hill in Washington, D.C. His work has been published by Fox News, Reason, The Federalist, Human Events, and other publications. He is a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow and a graduate of the University of Southern California. He and his wife Michelle live just outside Houston with their two children.

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