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Inside the Beltway: Who is James E. Risch?

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why, he's only the most true-blue conservative in the U.S. Senate, according to the National Journal's "Congressional Vote Ratings" released Thursday. The judgment was made by roll-call voting records alone. Sen. James E. Risch, Idaho Republican, has the most conservative voting record for 2012.

"The former Idaho governor entered the Senate in 2009 at the age of 65. He has not attracted much national media attention, but has been a true stalwart when it comes to his conservative voting record. Most recently, he was one of only eight Republican senators to vote against the Violence Against Women Act," the Journal reasons.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is in second place, followed by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina (who has since left office), Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

And on the House side? Former Rep. W. Todd Akin topped the list, though he's "gone from national politics," the Journal points out, "but won't be forgotten," following his controversial U.S. Senate campaign.

Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia is in second place, followed by Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Jeffrey Landry of Louisiana (now out of office) and -- all tied for fifth place -- K. Michael Conaway of Texas, John Fleming of Louisiana, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

PICKING UP SPEED

Can't argue with this: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus reveals that the GOP raised $6.9 million in January, and has $7.1 million cash on hand. Mr. Priebus also is honing a practical, frugal image for the committee, a wise choice in an uneasy age.

"As we work to build and grow the party, we remain committed to spending our money wisely and are grateful to our donors and supporters," Mr. Priebus says. "Grass-roots-level support was especially strong last month, and overall we added more new donors to our rolls than we did in January of 2009. Our donor base is now larger this year than it was in 2011."

Still, Republicans should prepare to get feisty; the committee's new Growth & Opportunity Project launched two months ago has not gotten much traction in the press. The effort must move from plodding to plotting to compete with Organizing for Action, which grew out of the wealth of voter data and money left over from President Obama's 2012 campaign.

It hammers on Democratic issues with button-pushing drama: "Share this graphic so your friends know what's at stake," the outreach advises, touting a photo of Mr. Obama and first responders and a provocative caption advising, "These cuts are not smart. They are not fair People will lose their jobs."

MR. ROMNEY'S RETURN

He's been low-key and tending to family business since November. But Mitt Romney has agreed to make a big appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference when it opens in 22 days.

"The thousands gathered at CPAC this year are eager to hear from the former 2012 GOP presidential candidate at his first public appearance since the elections," says American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas. "We look forward to hearing Gov. Romney's comments on the current state of affairs in America and the world, and his perspective on the future of the conservative movement."

The 40th annual CPAC is a biggie, to be staged in a hotel on the banks of the Potomac River. Its cast includes Sarah Palin, a crowd of lawmakers, journalists and Republican thought leaders of every persuasion.

POSITIVES FOR TIM SCOTT

"Would you say that your overall opinion of Sen. Tim Scott is favorable or unfavorable?" asks a new Winthrop University poll of South Carolina voters released Wednesday.

The answer: 55 percent of voters gave Mr. Scott a "favorable" response; the number was 73 percent among Republicans. Seventy-two percent of the voters overall, along with 79 percent of Republicans, gave a positive response to Mr. Scott's recent appointment to take the seat that was vacated by Jim DeMint, incoming president of the Heritage Foundation.

FIORINA'S ROOTS

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and U.S. Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina recently addressed the Ripon Society's annual legislative symposium, revealing that although she was a Stanford University graduate, she dropped out of law school, then called on ancient skills to get by.

"I worked at a hairdresser's, not doing hair, but doing the appointments, and closing up the cash drawer at night. I was a really good secretary. I could type 87 words a minute," she recalled. "I took the first job I was offered, which was to be a secretary, a receptionist actually, for a little nine-person firm. I typed, I filed, I answered the phones. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I just needed to pay the rent. The only reason I got headed towards business is because two gentleman in that small business came up to my desk one day and said, 'You know, we've been watching you. Maybe you can do more than type and file.'"

Mrs. Fiorina adds, "Now I have been privileged to travel around the world and meet with all kinds of people. And I know that in 2013, this is still the only country on the face of the Earth where a young girl can graduate with a degree in medieval history and philosophy, drop out of law school, go to work as a secretary, and ultimately have the privilege to run the largest technology company in the world. That is only possible in the United States of America."

POLL DU JOUR

• 92 percent of Republicans say preventing future acts of international terrorism is a "very important" foreign-policy goal; 86 percent of Democrats agree.

• 86 percent of Republicans say preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is a very important goal; 84 percent of Democrats agree.

• 70 percent of Republicans say defending our allies' security is a very important goal; 57 percent of Democrats agree.

• 44 percent of Republicans say defending human rights in other countries is a very important goal; 64 percent of Democrats agree.

• 42 percent of Republicans say that working with the United Nations is a very important goal; 75 percent of Democrats agree.

• 22 percent of Republicans say promoting economic development in other countries is a very important goal; 40 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,055 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 7 to 10.

• Grumbles, mumbles, press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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