Monday, March 8, 2004

Kerry rated opposite of Jim Bunning

Inside Washington

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The ratings are in, and Jim Bunning is indeed the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate, according to a new vote study.

"He votes Kentucky. That's all I can say," said his spokesman, Mike Reynard.

Actually, Bunning is tied with fellow Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell. And Indiana's Richard Lugar. And nine other Republican senators.

National Journal, a respected nonpartisan Washington magazine, annually ranks Congress members' levels of liberalism and conservatism. It's based on 140 votes in 2003.

The results:

• Bunning, McConnell, and Lugar got the highest scores, 87, meaning that they are more conservative than 87 percent of their Senate colleagues.

• Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio: 71.

• George Voinovich, R-Ohio: 70.

• Evan Bayh, D-Ind.: 42, making him one of the most conservative Democrats.

The most liberal senator? Massachusetts' John Kerry.

In the House, none of the Tristate's members were in the top 20. But almost all could be considered conservative:

• Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester: 87.

• Mike Pence, R-Ind.: 80.

• Mike Turner, R-Dayton: 77.

• Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park: 70.

• Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati: 68.

• Ken Lucas, D-Ky.: 50.

• Baron Hill, D-Ind. 38.

National Journal's rankings aren't based on anyone deciding what's a conservative or liberal position. Instead, a computer tracks groups of votes, using a complicated statistical model that, well, may not have worked.

It really reflects allegiance to the party's leaders, the magazine acknowledged.

"The results mark the first time in the 23-year history of the vote ratings that party loyalty, in effect, trumped the intended measure of ideological commitment for some lawmakers - the small band of maverick conservatives." That's why maverick conservative Chabot received an unusually low score, the magazine said.

DR. DAN GOES TO D.C.: Bunning's November opponent, state Sen. Dan Mongiardo, stopped in Washington last week to meet the press and raise money from a supportive group: Italian Americans.

"My name is Italian, but my story is entirely American," said the Hazard surgeon, grandson of an immigrant coal miner and the first in his family to attend college.

Mongiardo got an estimated $20,000 at the fund-raiser. He also told the press he owns an AK-47 rifle, though he didn't say it in a threatening way. He was stressing his pro-gun credentials.

CANCEL THAT TRIP: Sometimes weather forces trip cancellations. And sometimes a little military uprising and chaos can get in the way.

DeWine had been scheduled to visit Haiti this month with a congressional delegation. But the rebellion and ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide derailed those plans.

"I'm not sure the embassy was going to be able to deal with that," he said of their visit. DeWine, who has visited Haiti in the past, also revealed he got an emergency call from Aristide a few days before he lost his job. But he wouldn't reveal the conversation.


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