A new pre-general election scorecard has surfaced to grade sitting Republican legislators on their fealty to the GOP platform. The results:

  1. The Senate is an appalling hotbed of Republican fakery, with only 2 out of 21 Republican Senators scoring above 50%. Sen. Ryan Maher (R-28/Isabel), who used to call himself a Democrat, drew the high score at 64%. Sen. Tim Begalka (R-4/Clear Lake) came in second at 64%. Depending on your grading scale, you could say every Republican Senator flunked the platform test.
  2. Four GOP Senators scored below 30%: Sen. Craig Tieszen (R-34/Rapid City), Sen. Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen), Sen. Deb Peters (R-9/Hartford), and, with a score matching his district number, the least Republican Senator, Corey Brown (R-23/Gettysburg).
  3. House Republicans paint Pierre redder: 15 out of 35 GOP Reps scored meet or beat the 50% threshold. The most Republican Reps in the House this year were the two Republicans thrown out of the GOP caucus, Rep. Stace Nelson (R-25/Fulton) and Rep. Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs). They scored 97% and 92%, respectively.
  4. The bums who threw them out of caucus draw hard failing scores. Majority Leader David Lust (R-34/Rapid City) and Assistant Majority Leader Justin Cronin (R-23/Gettysburg) both a 32%; Speaker Pro-Tem Brian Gosch (R-32/Rapid City) shows them up with a measly 41%.
  5. The weakest RINOs in the House pool are Rep. David Scott (R-21/Geddes) at 29% and Rep. Jim White (R-22/Huron) at 28%.
  6. 43 out of 66 Republican legislators (65%) got lower GOP-fidelity scores this year than in 2011.

Over the past year, we have seen three similar scorecards released by usually anonymous agitators waging a campaign to rid the GOP of what they call "Republicans in Name Only":

  1. the John Birch-flavored Freedom Index in September 2011;
  2. SDRepublican.org's Republican Platform Voting Scorecard in November 2011;
  3. Gordon Howie's deeply flawed and ultimately irrelevant (but pleasantly not anonymous!) pre-primary theocracy scorecard in May 2012.

All three of those scorecards cherry-picked legislative issues to suit the agenda of ultra-conservative agitators who want to unseat the current SDGOP leadership.

SDRepublican.org's new pre-general election scorecard at least broadens the number of bills surveyed. Their report card last year scored 20 bills. The 2012 House scorecard weighs votes on 49 bills (33 on House floor, 16 in committee). The 2012 Senate scorecard weighs 48 votes (25 on Senate floor, 23 in committee). The bills include the usual dose of chest-thumping time-wasters on ObamaCare, abortion, and guns. However, the scorecards include more bills dealing with spending on buildings, taxes, government accountability, and education. Every bill comes with citations of Republican Party platform planks which justify the scoring of each bill as pro- or anti-GOP.

The scorecard omits GOP legislators who have stood down or been sent home by primary voters. For instance, the ratings omit the retiring Rep. Patricia Stricherz (R-8/Winfred) and Rep. Chuck Turbiville (R-31/Deadwood). The ratings also don't score Sen. Tom Nelson (R-31/Lead), who got hammered in an anti-RINO stampede by Bob Ewing in the June primary. This scorecard does not offer a full analysis of the Legislature's performance. It provides fodder for a continued campaign against active candidates and GOP leadership targets.

The 2012 scorecard also denies us the pleasure of scoring the Democrats. The 2011 scorecard revealed that Democrats like Sen. Jason Frerichs (D-1/Wilmot), Sen. Angie Buhl (D-15/Sioux Falls), and Rep. Frank Kloucek (D-19/Scotland) voted more like Republicans than many Republicans. I'm not sure whom such scores should embarrass more: Republicans, Democrats, or the scorecard makers for picking bad metrics. But if we're going to put these numbers on the table, it would be nice to see how all legislators, Republican and Democrat, shape up.

Such Republican–Democrat comparisons would help answer the practical question of how Republicans are supposed to vote. If the faux-Republicanry of posers like Novstrup, Gosch, and White really is so bad for the party and the state, shouldn't the platform scorecard point out to dissatisfied Republicans that they can get their party fix (and fix their party?) by voting for the Democrats running against those RINOs?

The Republicans in blue will dismiss this scorecard as they have dismissed past report cards. They can justify this dismissal by pointing to the anonymity of the scorecard. The compilers of this scorecard have told me their are afraid to put their names to their work for fear of retribution from the Governor and the GOP money machine. The scorecarders can claim they are simply posting voting records. But they couple those objective vote counts with subjective interpretations of the GOP platform. To give that interpretation credence, these scorecarders need to step forward and take ownership of that interpretation.