Franklin County's Expendables

Dave Ghose
Mike Duffey

The most and least effective from Franklin County

Franklin County legislators have no home-court advantage at the Statehouse. Though an open, friendly and relatively unified lot, the Franklin County delegates (seven Democrats and seven Republicans) are no powerhouses. Want to gauge their lack of influence? Consider that just one legislator from the county serves in a leadership role in the General Assembly-Charleta Tavares, the assistant minority leader in the Senate. (And that's hardly an earth-shaking role, considering the Senate's weak 10-member Democratic caucus.) "I genuinely like most, if not all, of the Franklin County delegation," says one survey respondent. "They're all well-intentioned people. But it was kind of hard to name the most effective."

That said, some Franklin County legislators are more irrelevant than others. Here's the best and the worst of the lot, according to our survey.

Most Effective: Mike Duffey

The Worthington state representative has a lot of the traits of an effective legislator: intelligence, curiosity, listening skills and a strong work ethic. The 38-year-old Republican cut his teeth at the Statehouse working for the Hannah News Service back in the early 2000s, and he retains the go-go motor of a voracious beat reporter. "He's a workhorse, willing to put in the time necessary and the effort required to take the lead on complex, important legislation," says another survey respondent.

His successes include a work-sharing program that aims to cut layoffs and the expansion of EpiPens in schools, but he's also had some misses. In fact, some Statehouse insiders say he's too active. "He's got big ideas, which is fine, but I don't know that he's got many of them enacted," says a veteran lobbyist. Adds another lobbyist: "The only criticism I've had with Duffey is I think he tries to do too much."

Duffey says he's learned persistence in the Statehouse. "If you are fully engaged, and you dive in, then you will be effective," he says. "Hard work pays off, even in the legislature."

Least Effective: Hearcel Craig

Is it unfair to pin the least effective tag on Craig? Maybe. As a Democrat, he's part of a splintered caucus with little influence in the Republican-dominated legislature. He's also inexperienced. The former Columbus City Council member has spent just two years in the House. "A first-termer shouldn't be held to as high a standard as some of the others," says a Democratic lobbyist. "The smart ones spend more time listening, paying attention, learning the issues and getting their ducks in a row before they move forward."

Well, life isn't always fair. And in the term-limits era, a legislator probably can't afford to take such a slow approach. Craig's history on City Council also doesn't assuage concerns. The genial, likable Craig has never showed much initiative since voters first elected him to public office in 2007. He's known pretty much for two things: his magnificent facial hair and getting in trouble while on City Council for using a placard issued to his dead mother to park illegally in a handicapped zone. "Hearcel's kind of along for the ride," says a fellow Democrat.