Aird, Chase named most liberal, conservative legislators; Coyner the most moderate

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The area has the most liberal House member and most conservative Senate member in Virginia, according to rankings of the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions compiled by a statistics major at Yale University.

Armin Thomas compiled the maps based on an algorithm developed by two political scientists in the 1980s.

In the results, Del. Lashrecse Aird (D-Petersburg) was the most liberal House member and Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) was the most conservative Senate member. Aird’s district includes southwestern Chesterfield County.

Del. Carrie Coyner (R-Chesterfield) was the most moderate member of either legislative body, and the only one out of 100 delegates and 40 senators who was near the scale’s center axis.

In fact, no Democrats were on the right side of the halfway point on the scale between far left and center. Republicans had two senators and 10 delegates who were in the left side of the halfway point between far right and center. In addition to Coyner, these included Del. Roxan Robinson (R-Chesterfield) and Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico). All three women won fairly close races in 2018.

The rankings also include a north/south scale that reflects deviation from the party line, in effect a maverick status.

Del. Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) is the most maverick Republican House member, while the Democratic delegate considered the most maverick is Lee Carter, who calls himself a socialist.

The opposite of maverick is conventional, and Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) is the most conventional Republican member of the House. Cox hardly ever casts maverick votes.

Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) was the third-closest to the center among his colleagues, behind Sens. Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax) and Lynwood Lewis (D-Eastern Shore), although all three were closer to the far left than center. Morrissey was also the fourth-most maverick of his colleagues, behind Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Richmond), who was third.

According to a Roanoke Times’ Aug. 3 editorial, the results help see broad patterns that may or may not be surprising, including that there’s more diversity of thought among both House and Senate Republicans than among House and Senate Democrats.

In some instances the ratings might not reflect the overall extent of a legislator’s service time. Prior to the ‘20 and ‘21 legislative sessions, Chase was known to work across the aisle and co-sponsored legislation to clean up coal ash ponds, for example.

And since the Democrats took control of both legislative bodies in the Nov. 5, 2019 election, they were focused on heavily partisan issues that Republicans previously kept bottled up.

Going forward, it’s possible that the parties will work together more, especially if the Republicans pick up the state House in the Nov. 2 election. The state Senate will not be up again until November 2023.

The maps can be viewed here: https://thorongilforecast.shinyapps.io/dwnominateleg/.

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