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117 ALEC Members Voted Out of Office in 2012

Legislators’ membership in and support of the American Legislative Exchange Council has become a public campaign issue.

In primary and general elections in 2012 and recall elections in 2011 and 2012, a total of 117 members and alumni of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were voted out of office, according to research and analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), ColorOfChange, and others.

Arizona Down 14 ALEC Members

As reported by CMD, former State Senator Russell Pearce was voted out of office in November 2011 in what was widely seen as a referendum on Senate Bill 1070, the anti-immigration legislation Pearce introduced. Pearce was a long-time ALEC member and was on the public sector executive committee of the task force that adopted SB 1070 as a “model” bill.

In addition, ALEC state legislators Representatives J. Ted Vogt (R-10) and Amanda Reeve (R-6) lost in the general election. Representatives John Fillmore (R-23), Nancy McLain (R-3), and Rep. David Burnell Smith (R-7), and Sen. Lori Klein (R-6) lost GOP primary elections in 2012. Representatives Cecil P. Ash (R-18), Steve Court (R-18), Jack W. Harper (R-4), Peggy Judd (R-25), Terri Proud (R-26), and James P. Weiers (R-12) and Sen. Sylvia Tenney Allen (R-5) retired or were ineligible for reelection due to term limits.

Wisconsin Down 11 ALEC Members and Alumni

In Wisconsin, six known ALEC members have been voted out of office since 2011, and prominent ALEC alumnus Tommy Thompson did not win his bid for U.S. Senate. Thompson had been a popular Wisconsin governor and United States Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. He said in a speech at an ALEC event in 2001 that he became involved with ALEC in 1974, a year after its founding. Thompson ran for U.S. Senate against Rep. Tammy Baldwin, an unabashed progressive, and lost.

Representatives Joseph Knilans (R-44), Roger Rivard (R-75), and Evan Wynn (R-43) also lost their races this month. Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald (R-39) lost the GOP primary for U.S. Senate seat to Thompson and was not eligible for reelection to his Assembly seat. Former Rep. Randy Hopper (R-18) and former Senators Dan Kapanke (R-32) and Van Wanggaard (R-21) lost their seats in recall elections in 2011 and 2012. Sen. Rich Zipperer (R-33) resigned to join Governor Scott Walker’s administration, and Representatives Karl Van Roy (R-90) and Michelle Litjens (R-56) retired.

Minnesota Down 11 ALEC Members

In Minnesota, 11 of the state’s 26 known ALEC members will not return to office in 2013, thanks to retirement, redistricting, and voter rejection, according to Bluestem Prairie. Those out include Rep. Carol McFarlane (R-53B), Sen. Chris Gerlach (R-37), former ALEC state chair Sen. Gen Olson (R-33), Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R-10), Rep. Ron Shimanski (R-18A), Sen. Ted Daley (R-38), Rep. Connie Doepke (R-33B), Sen. Mike Parry (R-26), Sen. Amy Koch (R-19), Sen. John Howe (R-28), and Rep. King Banaian (R-15B).

Other States’ Reduced ALEC Membership

In New Hampshire, five of the state’s 31 known ALEC members were not re-elected to their seats for 2013: Rep. Jennifer Coffey (R-6), Rep. Beverly T. Rodeschin (R-2), Rep. Will Smith (R-18), Rep. Joseph Thomas (R-19), and Rep. J. Gail Barry (R-16).

In Rhode Island, both of the state’s “ALEC State Chairmen,” Rep. Jon Brien (D-50) and Sen. Frank Maher (R-34), were voted out of office.

A list of ALEC legislators who were up for election on November 6, updated with wins and losses, is available from ColorOfChange here.

What’s Ahead?

In state legislative campaigns in Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington State, membership in and support of ALEC has become a public campaign issue in the last year and a half. During that time, 70 state legislators nationwide have publicly cut ties to ALEC.

Many ALEC legislators, however, were reelected, and it is unknown how many newly elected state legislators will be drafted by ALEC this coming year. In 2010, Republicans gained “trifecta” control (meaning members of one political party hold the governorship as well as the majority in both bodies of the state legislature) over 21 states. After the 2012 election, there are now 23 states with Republican trifectas.

Although ALEC claims to be nonpartisan, its legislative membership is overwhelmingly Republican. As CMD has reported, after the 2010 election a flood of nearly identical bills emerged from statehouses under Republican control. When CMD launched in July 2011, the public was able to view over 800 “model” bills directly attributable to ALEC for the first time, and link many of these proposals to their ALEC templates.

It is expected that 2012 will generate a new raft of ALEC legislation, including bills to roll back taxes and starve state government, bills to privatize public schools, bills to privatize public pensions and other government services and, of course, bills to defund and dismantle unions. What has changed is that now there are active citizen groups across the nation tracking ALEC members, bills and conferences and helping to shed a light on this organization that allows corporate lobbyists to vote as equals with legislators behind closed doors on proposals to change your rights and obligations under the law.

Harriet Rowan and Katelin Lorenze contributed to this report.

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