Cornyn's Conservative Rating Slips Below the GOP Senate Average

WASHINGTON - New ratings from an influential conservative group put Texan John Cornyn behind 35 other senators - a middling score as he seeks to fire up grassroots activists ahead of his push for reelection.The scorecard issued Tuesday by the American Conservative Union put Cornyn far below his fellow Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz.Cornyn scored 77%. His lifetime average with the ACU is nearly 90%. But for last year, he fellow below the average score of 82% for GOP senators.Cruz hit 95%--better than all but three colleagues, based on 20 votes cast last year. Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all had perfect scores. The ACU gave double credit for two votes, on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and on internet regulations and "net neutrality."Cruz toed the ACU line on all but one key vote, to reauthorize the federal flood insurance program. That passed 86-12.Cornyn cast five votes the ACU didn't like, on flood insurance and other issues of varying ideological weight. For instance, the ACU dinged him for opposing a Lee-authored amendment that would have blocked a federal ban on marketing of "almond milk" and similar products. The dairy industry had been lobbying hard for a regulation to ensure that only their products could be sold as milk.Cornyn currently faces no jeopardy of a challenge from the right in next year's primary as he seeks a fourth six-year term. He has already collected endorsements from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Cruz and President Donald Trump, which together are likely to preempt any serious challenge in the primary.But compared to Cruz, a darling of tea partiers, Cornyn has struggled for the enthusiastic affection of the right. He served as Senate majority whip until January, when internal party term limits forced him to step down from that post, second only to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.The playing field on the Democratic side remains in flux for the 2020 Senate race in Texas.Beto O'Rourke, the El Paso Democrat who nearly toppled Cruz last fall, has set his sights on the White House this year rather than try again for the Senate.Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio is considering a challenge and is expected to announce a decision soon. He chairs his brother Julián Castro's presidential campaign, and he chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.M.J. Hegar, an Air Force combat veteran who lost a congressional race last fall to Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, by 3 percentage points, is considering a run and reportedly is being encouraged by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, leader of the Democratic Senate minority.On the House side, 11 lawmakers scored 100% in the ACU scorecard, none from Texas, though a half-dozen Texas Republicans topped 90%: Reps. John Ratcliffe of Heath, Jodey Arrington of Lubbock and Roger Williams of Austin. Three others who retired in January also hit that mark last year: Jeb Hensarling of Dallas, Sam Johnson of Plano, and Ted Poe of Humble.O'Rourke scored 8 percent on the conservative scale in his final year in Congress, up from 4 percent the year before.Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo racked up the most conservative voting record of any Democrat in the House, at 40%.That put him well to the right of two Republicans who scored dead last on their side of the aisle, at just 24%: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.On the Senate side, the least conservative Republican, Lisa Murkowski, and the most conservative Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, each scored 36%.  Continue reading...

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