We keep hearing again and again that Tom Ridge is a supporter of abortion rights and that he’s less conservative than Pat Toomey. Both statements are correct. But just what kind of Congressman was he?
Fact is, it really depends on what year you’re looking at. He moved from left to right over time. Near the end of his congressional career, as he prepared his gubernatorial run, Ridge was a 60-70 percent voter on the American Conservative Union’s issues. Earlier on, he voted like a moderate Democrat, with ratings as low as the 30s.
A few key votes that Ridge took: He voted to expand welfare eligibility (1984), to fund abortions with public money, and in favor of the fairness doctrine (in 1987). Ridge voted against an early school choice program in 1992. He also voted for a number of union priorities — in 1988, he voted to re-hire the air traffic controllers who had gone toe-to-toe with President Reagan seven years earlier and lost. Ridge voted against SDI repeatedly, and against some tax cuts.
The bottom line is that as a member of Congress, Tom Ridge had a liberal streak that goes far beyond abortion. But his record still puts him to the right of Arlen Specter.