Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun took a swipe at Speaker of the House John Boehner Monday, saying that he is not conservative enough.
Broun, who is running for Senate in Georgia, hit Rep. Jack Kingston, another Republican congressman seeking the Senate nomination for not being sufficiently conservative. He contended that lawmaker rankings from National Journal are not accurate because they equated being conservative with voting with the speaker.
National Journal ranked Kingston as the second most conservative member of the Georgia delegation, and the 17th most conservative in the House overall. Broun was ranked 196th overall, making him the least conservative Republican in the delegation.
“Congressman Kingston conveniently fails to explain that the National Journal uses Speaker Boehner’s position on issues as the benchmark definition of conservative,” Broun said in a statement.
“By that logic, the more one votes with the Speaker, the more conservative he is,” he went on. “While we all wish that was a reliable measure of conservative, experience has taught that it’s not.”
As speaker, Boehner rarely casts votes, and, therefore, does not have a rating in National Journal’s list. But he does decide which legislation to bring to the floor for a vote.
According to National Journal’s explanation of the methodology, ratings of House members were based on 111 votes in 2013. For each vote, “yea” and “nay” were designated as either conservative or liberal.
The explanation acknowledges that Republicans who sometimes vote against the “Republican” position because they feel it is not conservative enough would get counted as voting liberally on that issue. National Journal explains:
“For instance, consider the hypothetical example of a vote in the House on cutting domestic spending. Let’s say the bill passed with overwhelming support from House Republicans and overwhelming opposition from House Democrats. A vote for the bill would be counted as conservative and a vote against the bill would be counted as liberal. But let’s say a handful of House Republican conservatives voted against the bill on the grounds that the budget cuts didn’t go far enough. In so doing, they voted against most conservatives and with most liberals. Their votes would be counted as liberal because they voted with liberals. It’s beyond the capacity of a vote-ratings system to determine why a member voted the way he or she did on any particular piece of legislation. For that reason, some high-profile votes that have conservatives voting against a measure because it isn’t conservative enough and liberals voting against the same measure because it isn’t liberal enough are often omitted from the vote ratings.”
Neither Boehner’s office nor Kingston’s office responded to request for comment.
The side-swipe at Boehner comes one week after the speaker brought a bill to the floor to raise the debt limit, a bill that was opposed by the large majority of Republicans in the House. Boehner took the rare step of voting for the bill, and was one of 28 Republicans who joined 193 Democrats to help pass it. Broun opposed the bill, as did Kingston and Rep. Phil Gingrey, the third Republican member of Congress running for the Senate seat.
Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and businessman David Perdue, as well as several other lesser known candidates, are also running in the race. The primary is set for May 20, and the winner is expected to face Democrat Michelle Nunn.*
*This post previously misidentified the expected Democratic nominee: it is Michelle Nunn, not her father and former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn.