Former Senator Rick Santorum, at the Republican Candidates Debate in Mesa, Arizona on February 22, 2012:
"And I was out there as a Republican senator, a conservative voting record, over a 90 percent conservative voting record from the American Conservative Union."
It was serendipity that Santorum mentioned his conservative record during Wednesday's debate on CNN, because I had already been working last week on comparing/contrasting Santorum with his peers in the Senate from 1995-2006.
The American Conservative Union's Ratings of Congress "have been the definitive guide for decades on where Members of Congress stand on conservative issues. Published by the ACUF, it provides the public and the news media a yearly score for each Member of the United States House and Senate." ACU is our oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization, the creator of the annual CPAC gathering in Washington, DC, and the leading entity in voicing the conservative position on issues.
ACU "tracks a wide range of issues before Congress to determine which issues and votes serve as a dividing line to help separate those Members of the U.S. House and Senate who protect liberty as conservatives and those who are truly liberal." A yearly score of 100 means that the member stood with ACU on the conservative side of every key vote that would create a clear ideological distinction among the members; conversely, a yearly score of 0 highlights a dedicated liberal.
With a little bit of research and number-crunching, I determined that there were one hundred and fifty-seven (157) Senators who served at times alongside Santorum during those twelve years. Some facts & figures from my study:
- Santorum's total score from 1995-2006 was 1,098 – an average of 91.50 per year
- Santorum's scores ranged from a low of 83 as a freshman, to a perfect score of 100 in 2000 and 2001
- Overall, Santorum's scores trended more conservative during his 12-year Senate term
- Including Santorum, there were 86 different Republican Senators, with an average rating of 84.98
- There were 72 different Democrat/Independent Senators, with an average rating of 12.84
- There were 110 Senators who served at least 6 years between 1995 and 2006. Santorum ranked #23 out of 110.
By comparison, Newt Gingrich had a lifetime rating of 90 from ACU for his twenty years in the House, and Ron Paul has a lifetime rating of 83.51 for his twenty-two years in the House.
Since Mitt Romney has been a two-time loser when running for a Federal office, he doesn't have a rating from ACU. However, there are 19 Senators who endorse Romney and also served alongside Santorum between 1995 and 2006:
|South Dakota - John Thune (R)|
|Colorado - Hank Brown (R)|
|Colorado - Wayne Allard (R)|
|Florida - Mel Martinez (R)|
|North Carolina - Richard Burr (R)|
|Kansas - Bob Dole (R)|
|Florida - Connie Mack (R)|
|New Hampshire - John E. Sununu (R)|
|North Carolina - Elizabeth Dole (R)|
|Missouri - James Talent (R)|
|Utah - Orrin G. Hatch (R)|
|Mississippi - Thad Cochran (R)|
|New Hampshire - Judd Gregg (R)|
|Colorado - Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R)|
|Arizona - John McCain (R)|
|Ohio - George Voinovich (R)|
|Minnesota - Norm Coleman (R)|
|Oregon - Gordon Smith (R)|
|Alaska - Lisa Murkowski (R)|
If Romney's endorsers are any indication of how conservative Romney would govern, it certainly appears that he would be less conservative than the average Republican, and much less conservative than either Santorum or Gingrich.