Election Central

Idaho’s Sen. Risch touts ranking as No. 1 Obama opponent

Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch was the most conservative member of the Senate in 2013, according to the new rankings by National Journal which calls Risch “the high-energy, low-visibility junior Republican senator from Idaho,” who topped better known GOP Sens. Mitch McCon­nell, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.

It’s the third time in his five years in the Senate that Risch has topped the National Journal list.

Idaho GOP senior Sen. Mike Crapo ranked No. 10 the National Journal ratings. The Journal makes Top 15 lists for “most conservative” and “most liberal” members of the House and Senate available online; neither Idaho GOP Rep. Mike Simpson or Raul Labrador made either tally.

National Journal profiles Risch in a long story headlined, “The Most Conservative Member of the Senate Isn’t Who You’d Think.”

Reporter Michael Catalini suggests Risch may have the lowest name recognition among the Senate’s 100 members. And Catalini offers this from GOP Gov. Butch Otter:

“Idaho loves two things. They love a person who is a constitutionalist, who tries to follow the Constitution, and they love a person that uses the Constitution as the principles that guide their political decisions. And that is Jim Risch.”

In another new voting ranking by CQ Weekly, Risch ranked first in opposition to President Barack Obama’s agenda in 2013.

CQ Weekly analyzed 291 floor votes in 2013 in putting Risch first. CQ is a subscription-only service, so I don’t have access to the full rankings. But Risch issued a news release Monday letting Idaho know he’s the president’s leading opponent.

Risch, 70, will likely face Democrat Nels Mitchell, a first-time candidate, as he seeks a second six-year term in November.

The news release follows:

Risch Ranks as No. 1 Senator to Vote in Opposition of Obama Agenda

Named by Congressional Quarterly Weekly Magazine

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Risch has been ranked by Congressional Quarterly Magazine as the number 1 senator to oppose President Barack Obama’s agenda in 2013.

“I am not surprised to find my name at the top of the list of senators who vote in opposition of President Obama’s agenda,” said Risch. “Since the day the president took office, he has been pushing an agenda of government expansion.  That is not what the people of Idaho tell me they want.  I came to the U.S. Senate to fight for a balanced budget, job creation, and expanded freedoms for Idahoans and Americans.  That is not the direction the president is trying to take America.”

This vote analysis was based on all 291 floor votes for which senators were asked to vote “yea” or “nay” in 2013.

Congressional Quarterly Weekly is a Washington, D.C.-based publication focused on government, commerce, and politics. The publication has been analyzing voting patterns of members of Congress since 1945.


Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics