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The Senate's Most Conservative Member: Ever Heard of Him? The Senate's Most Conservative Member: Ever Heard of Him?

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Special Reports

The Senate's Most Conservative Member: Ever Heard of Him?

James Risch, an Idaho Republican, edges out his more well-known colleagues in the upper chamber.

This is James Risch. You'd be forgiven for not knowing that. (HARRY HAMBURG/AP)()

February 20, 2013

When people think about conservative “all stars” in the Senate (if people ever actually think about such a thing), a few names probably come to mind. There’s Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who before leaving the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation—a conservative Think Tank—was the godfather of the tea party in the upper chamber. Then of course there is Rand Paul, son of Ron, libertarian champion from Kentucky. A little less known, but still with some name recognition, are Mike Lee of Utah and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, former head of the Club for Growth.

All of these guys rank on National Journal’s most conservative list, but none of them hold the top spot. That honor goes to James Risch of Idaho, a senator so obscure that he might as well be dubbed the Ann Veal of the Senate.

Risch, a former governor, entered the Senate in 2009 at the age of 65. While not a figure with much national press since then, Risch has been a true stalwart when it comes to his conservative voting record, most recently being one of just eight Republican senators to vote against the Violence Against Women Act. 

 

To learn how the vote rankings are calculated, click here.

Full results will be published Thursday.

Graphic by Peter BellText by Ben Terris

 

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