NC_house_newRALEIGH—With Republicans controlling all of the top elected offices in the state, there is some question about how big the divide is within the party.

With the next election never far away, some Republicans are facing the question of if they are conservative enough for the party  or in some cases to conservative  for the masses.

Conservative advocacy groups have not been mincing any words. When it comes to how the state House handled a spending plan proposal,  they don’t approve.

“The governor’s proposed budget was 2.3 percent.  The House’s budget was 6.3 percent, which is astronomical and ridiculous,” said Donald Bryson, with Americans for Prosperity.

When Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed Senate Bill 2, a piece of legislation carried by Senate President pro-tem Phil Berger meant to allow those with sincere religious objections to opt of same-sex marriage, traditional marriage advocates were quick to respond. The NC Values Coalition released this statement: It is unacceptable for any Governor who calls himself ‘conservative’ to veto legislation like SB 2.

The Senate has been quick to say they hold the conservative values  that some House members are being accused of abandoning, again pointing to the budget.

“It is excessive and more in line with what the democrats did when we started with a deficit in 2011,” said aid Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican.

But for House members, they say there is no loss of conservative values, even when it comes to the budget.

“On this issue maybe, on other issues, maybe not.  We sent them an energy bill that was extremely conservative.  So we’ll see what happens with that.  We sent them a budget that they might not consider conservative. I consider vast parts of that budget conservative.  We’ll see what they do with that. I don’t think you can say consistently any one body is more conservative than the other,” said Majority Leader Rep. Mike Hager.

Analysts say this battle over who is and is not conservative enough is important because the interest and advocacy groups have a strong hand in the election process.

“Themselves and through their own links have great access to lots and lots of money and could be conceivably be very troublesome to a lawmaker trying to get re-elected, especially in a primary,” said Mac McCorkle, with Duke University.

However analysts say this is a very different concern for lawmakers, who are in safer districts more drawn in their favor than for someone like the governor—who has to appeal to the state as a whole- while also not losing his base.

“On a statewide level, it will be interesting to see how candidates are positioning themselves. And that’s why I think we see Pat McCrory trying position himself more toward the middle on the gay marriage issue for example,” said Stephen Greene, with NC State University.

Analysts say these battles are common with a party who holds this much power in the state and say we can expect to see it continue, especially as the budget work continues in the legislature.

– Loretta Boniti