Naughty or nice: Club For Growth releases 2010 vote scorecard

Club For Growth, a pro-free market group with a history of targeting Republicans who stray too far to the left, released its 2010 voting scorecard Thursday, highlighting how lawmakers voted on a series of key measures over the last year.

The scorecard is good news for stalwarts like Sen. Jim Demint, South Carolina Republican, one of two Senators to vote “pro-growth” 100 percent of the time, according to the group (GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma was the other).

And while there’s plenty of liberals from states like California, Massachussets and New York who scored a lowly 0 percent – and don’t care – the report could sting for some moderate Republicans in solid red districts or conservative Democrats trying to show their independence from President Obama and their party.

For instance, Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, who faces reelection in 2012, scored a 49 percent, the lowest of the low for Senate Republicans.

Snowe voted for the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, against reinstating vouchers in D.C. schools, and against permanently repealing the Estate Tax, or “death tax,” among other foibles – from a right wing perspective, at least.

Rep. Tim Murphy, Pennsylvania Republican, is one lawmaker who might wince at the scorecard. He scored a 61 percent, the fifth worst among House Republicans. His district, near Pittsburgh, is ranked a R+6 by the Cook Political Report; Sen. John McCain beat Obama there 55-45 percent.

The Club for Growth hit Murphy for votes on extending unemployment benefits and a bill regarding trade with China.

One of the most interesting ways to look at how lawmakers voted is comparing their scores in 2010 with how they’ve voted over the course of their careers.

In the House and Senate, six lawmakers swung by over 30 percentage points in the conservative direction in 2010 compared to their lifetime scores by the Club for Growth.

Included in the list is Rep. Dave Reichart, Washington Republican (36 percent swing), Rep. Candice Miller, Michigan Republican (34 percent swing), Rep. Peter King, New York Republican (33 percent swing), Rep. Mary Bono Mack, California Republican (32 percent swing), Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican and new chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee (31 percent swing), and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, New Jersey Republican (31 percent swing).

Among Senate Republicans, Sens. Snowe and Orrin Hatch or Utah had the biggest swings in the conservative direction, changing by 23 percent each. Both could face primary challengers. Hatch changed from 74 percent lifetime score to 97 percent in 2010.

Former Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi was the Democrat with the biggest swing to the right (24 percent), but one that ultimately proved fruitless in avoiding defeat at the polls in November.

On the other side, some lawmakers’ scores plummeted in 2010 as they swung to the left.

Former Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania took his 32 percent lifetime score all the way to zero, for instance, but he also switched parties.

The Republican with the biggest drop in scores was Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, who dropped 9 points from 84 percent lifetime score to 75 percent in 2010. His chief fault, according to the scorecard, was voting for a protectionist trade bill regarding China.