RALEIGH — State Rep. Ken Goodman is the most effective Democratic lawmaker still serving in the North Carolina House, according to a survey of legislative insiders.
Goodman, D-Richmond, ranked 32nd among 120 House members in the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research’s biennial effectiveness rankings released Thursday. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, who resigned last August to lead the North Carolina Justice Center think tank, is ranked 16th.
“I’ve tried to work with people from where they are,” Goodman said. “I try not to be partisan. I try to do what’s best for the state, and I think that’s paid off.”
Goodman is founder and chairman of the Main Street Democrats Legislative Caucus, a group of roughly two-dozen moderate, pro-business Democrats in the General Assembly. The caucus launched ahead of the 2015 session and likely served to raise Goodman’s profile.
“I think that’s been a huge help,” he said. “I know it’s subjective, but it is a positive, and I was very pleased by that.”
The nonpartisan Center for Public Policy Research surveyed all 50 senators and 120 representatives along with 382 registered lobbyists and 32 journalists who cover the General Assembly. The survey’s overall response rate was 46 percent.
Goodman rose from a ranking of 66th after the 2013 regular session and he was ranked 99th after his freshman term in 2011.
Legislative leaders and those who chair the most powerful committees usually occupy the survey’s top slots. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, ranked No. 1 in the House and Senate President Pro-tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, led the pack in his chamber.
Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, rose to 93rd in effectiveness after being ranked 114th following the 2013 session.
“I’m thankful that my colleagues took me out of the cellar and brought me back up a bit,” Pierce said.
The N.C. Legislative Black Caucus chairman, Pierce is outspoken on issues affecting minorities and on public education. With Democrats out of power, his leadership post may not carry as much influence as it otherwise could.
“I’m very vocal on a lot of issues and have helped guide the discussion on the floor,” Pierce said. “Colleagues recognize that, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans.”
Pierce’s highest ranking on the survey, 64th, followed the 2009 session when Democrats controlled the House and Senate and former Rep. Joe Hackney served as speaker.
Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, is ranked 37th in his freshman term. He faces a challenge from Democrat Dannie Montgomery of Anson County in his bid to win re-election this November, while Goodman and Pierce are both running unopposed.
“I’ll take 37th out of 50 on the first time out,” McInnis said, noting that lawmakers’ influence generally rises as they gain senioirty.
Many veteran legislators — including Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca, ranked No. 2, and Sen. Bob Rucho, the chief architect of congressional and legislative districts during the 2011 redistricting process, ranked No. 5 — plan to retire after the 2016 short session that starts Monday.
The survey also tracks lawmakers’ attendance and participation in roll-call votes.
McInnis and 17 other senators shared a No. 1 ranking for vote participation, casting votes each time they were held while he was present. With only three days absent during the 137-day session, McInnis tied for 18th in attendance. Eight senators with no absences shared the first-place slot.
Goodman tied for 62nd in attendance with six days absent and two partial absences during the House’s 127-day term. He tied for 72nd in roll-call voting, casting 1,047 of 1,059 votes taken while he was present.
Pierce, who was absent for six days and had one partial absence, is in a five-way tie for 56th in attendance. Pierce cast 1,073 of a possible 1,075 votes, tying for 19th in participation.
Reach Corey Friedman at 910-817-2670.