John Cornyn Has a Better Club for Growth Score than His Primary Opponent

by Patrick Brennan

The Club for Growth, an outside group with a long history of supporting economically conservative candidates in primaries against more moderate candidates, released its assessment of the 2013 voting records of members of Congress yesterday. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee top the upper chamber’s ranking, with 100 percent ratings, but other stop scorers may be more surprising: Texas senior senator John Cornyn got a 93 percent, tying him for eighth in the chamber of 100 — and he’s being challenged (and labeled “liberal John Cornyn”) by Republican congressman Steve Stockman, who placed 39th out of his chamber of 435, and got a rating of just 87 percent. (The scores are not precisely comparable since the House and Senate take different votes.)

Mike Enzi, the Wyoming senator whom former State Department official Liz Cheney challenged earlier this year (before she dropped out of the race) is also a top performer: He got a 94 percent, tying him for 4th in the Senate.

Kansas senator Pat Roberts, who’s facing a challenge from radiologist Martin Wolf, doesn’t do quite as well, but hardly ranks as one of the more liberal Republicans: He ties for 19th out of 100, with an 84 percent (his lifetime ranking is somewhat worse). Both of them have been embroiled in scandal of late: Roberts over whether he actually has a residency in Kansas, and Wolf over the fact that he once posted X-rays of his patients on Facebook and made crude comments on them, and a recent suit by a Kansas City doctor alleging that Wolf’s firm was engaged in a price-fixing scheme that took advantage of patients.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who’s facing a primary challenge from a Kentucky businessman, does fairly well: He’s the 14th best senator by the Club’s rankings, with an 87 percent this year.

Not all the GOP senators facing primary challenges have flattering scores: Six-term Mississippi senator Thad Cochran has a 56 percent, earning him 43rd place (his lifetime rating is a bit better), and South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham comes in 39th, with a 65 percent (his lifetime rating is also better).

The House members receiving 100 percent ratings this year from the Club: Arizona’s Trent Franks, Matt Salmon, and David Schweikert, and California’s Tom McClintock. Tea-party favorite Louie Gohmert of Texas came in with just a 94 percent, ranking him 18th — his lifetime rating is merely a high B+, too low to secure him a coveted “Defender of Economic Freedom” title, awarded to legislators with lifetime and annual scores above 90.

Gary Peters, interestingly, the Democratic Michigan congressman running for the state’s empty Senate seat, is tied for the worst voting record in the whole House, at just 3 percent, as is Bruce Braley, who’s running for Senate in Iowa.

The Club’s scoring methodology is here — it tends to differ from Heritage Action, another conservative group that tries to hold incumbents to account, in that it emphasizes key policy-related votes over procedural and tactical issues (Heritage Action’s scores are thus a bit tougher and lower).