Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Readers Ask: Where's Feingold on List of Good Senators?

I've gotten quite a few e-mails about my piece, U.S. Senators Who Made Us Proud in 2005 and, aside from the people who questioned how I could include Hillary Clinton in the article, the main question I've gotten is about why I didn't cite Russ Feingold (D-WI).

While it took me some time to get over Senator Feingold voting to confirm John Ashcroft way back when, he seems to be everywhere these days and I too have been incredibly impressed with the vocal leadership he's showing on a wide range of issues. So his omission in my list was purely a numbers game as I was really only discussing an evaluation based on looking at 50 key Senate votes in 2005 and how each Senator voted.

And, beyond the fact that the intent of the piece was to applaud the seven Senators who were 50-for-50 in voting the right way, I really only had room to mention the people who strayed on only one vote. But, since you asked, I'll tell you that Feingold was not far from the top. Here's a list of the Senators who only voted with the Republicans on two of 50 major votes:
  • Joe Biden (D-DE)
  • Mark Dayton (D-MN)
  • Russ Feingold (D-WI)
  • Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR)
And what were Feingold's two votes with the GOP? He voted to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice of Supreme Court and came out against a bill to provide funding for interoperable communications equipment grants for first responders.

But, while Feingold's vote on Roberts makes me worry about whether he'll stand firm on the Alito nomination, he's been front and center lately in showing some strong leadership which, if he really wants to be president someday, is exactly what he needs to do.