Friday, February 27, 2004

Sen. John Kerry was the “No. 1 Senate liberal in 2003,” according to new rankings by the National Journal.

The publication rated all 100 senators’ votes on 32 economic issues, 15 social policy issues and 15 foreign policy issues, and found the Massachusetts senator and presidential hopeful more liberal than any of his colleagues.

The magazine noted that Mr. Kerry had the most liberal record three other times in his 20 years in Congress: in 1986, 1988 and 1990.

By contrast in 2003, fellow Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was the 11th most liberal senator, according to the rankings by the weekly, which covers Washington government and Congress.

Mr. Kerry’s voting record was less liberal throughout the 1990s, compared to his Senate colleagues. But this past year, he and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the man presenting the most serious challenge to Mr. Kerry for the Democratic nomination, were both much more liberal. Mr. Edwards was ranked fourth most liberal.

It was striking that the two men were so similar, the magazine said, “because during the course of their Senate careers, their ratings have often placed them in different wings of their party.”

Their high scores may be due, in part, to having missed so many votes while campaigning last year. Of the 62 votes the magazine tracked, Mr. Kerry missed 37 and Mr. Edwards missed 22. Both men usually returned for the most critical party votes, which probably boosted their liberal credentials.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) sent out an e-mail yesterday listing the 62 votes National Journal used in its rankings, with the subject heading, “Label Him What You Want, Kerry Wrong Choice For America.”

Later, RNC spokeswoman Christine Iverson said, “John Kerry’s record speaks for itself, and we’ve been saying that all along and will continue to say it.”

Mr. Kerry’s campaign press office did not return a call for comment.

The National Journal’s voting record list included the senator’s votes on trade agreements, abortion, Medicare, tax cuts, spending and efforts to end filibusters on confirming some of the most contentious judicial nominees.

Other groups also rate Mr. Kerry as more liberal on the political spectrum, though not the most liberal senator.

The American Conservative Union (ACU) gave him a 13 rating on its conservative scale for 2003, with 100 being the most conservative. His rating was higher than the 10 rating or lower scored by Mr. Kennedy and 13 other Democrats. This was partly because Mr. Kerry missed three votes, which boosted his average.

Mr. Kerry has a lifetime career rating of 5 from the ACU, slightly above the group’s lifetime career 3 score for Mr. Kennedy.

The Americans for Democratic Action, a prominent liberal advocacy group, gives Mr. Kerry a lifetime career rating of 92 on a 100-point scale, with 100 being the most liberal. Mr. Kerry’s rating is higher than fellow Democratic candidate Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat.

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