Research from the Center for Media Analysis shows that in 2012 primary, general and recall elections, 117 members or alumni of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were voted out of office.
The statistic shows that membership in the group has become a public liability and campaign issue. However, it may not be enough to stop a new wave of ALEC sponsored legislation since 23 states are now under the rule of a “Republican Trifecta,” meaning the party holds both bodies of the state legislature and control of the Governor’s mansion.
In Wisconsin, popular ALEC alumni Tommy Thompson failed to reclaim his Senate seat when he lost to progressive favorite Tammy Baldwin. Since 2011, six ALEC members have been voted out of office in the state. Counting retirees and those who chose not to run in hard reelections, Wisconsin has ousted 11 total ALEC members from its ranks.
In Minnesota, where Governor Mark Dayton has called out ALEC by name in the past, 11 ALEC members have been ousted. Included is former ALEC state chair, Sen. Gen Olson.
The state of New Hampshire has lost five of its 31 ALEC members. New Hampshire, due to its odd governmental set up, is a place where ALEC legislation can easily be mobilized due to the quite large number of representatives. The state has 400 representatives from 103 districts and the average legislator represents roughly 3,300 residents. New Hampshire has a population of 1,318,194 and is only 9,304 square miles. If this ratio was used on a national scale the U.S. congress would have 99,000 members.
The vastness of the legislature allowed the rise of such ALEC-affiliated, Tea Party baffoons as the mother and son duo of Kyle and Laura Jones. Last Winter, 20-year old Kyle argued to end mandatory lunch breaks for full-time workers based on his experience as shift manager at a local Burger King. Together with their fellow Granite State Republicans they have thrice pushed “Right-to-Work” unsuccessfully since 2010. Luckily, the influence of groups such as ALEC in New Hampshire was roundly rejected in the 2012 election. House membership consisted of 290 Republicans and 104 Democrats going into November. In 2013, the state will take on a much more balanced look with 221 Democrats and 179 Republicans.
Arizona has also long been a teeming pile of ALEC cowdung, most notably in the immigration department. Since 2011, though, the state has lost 14 ALEC members and many more are facing public scrutiny for voting on the ALEC supported Senate Bill 1070 which included some of the most drastic anti-immigration standards of modern times.
The ouster of this small chunk of ALEC members gives some hope to the notion that the group’s power is being harnessed, that the common good has a shot at prevailing. A more promising sign, even, is that ALEC membership has become a target of public scrutiny causing 70 state legislators to publicly cut ties with the group in the past two years.