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A few Minnesota surprises in National Journal's annual left-to-right vote ratings

WASHINGTON — National Journal's annual vote rankings are out, and since these are the most-quoted and among the most respected barometers of exactly how liberal or conservative a lawmaker is, here are some observations. The full list, which ranks lawmakers based on votes cast in 2010, is here.

Some interesting highlights that will become a little more relevant later in the year and in the context of the 2012 elections:

  • A central point in the early campaign against Sen. Amy Klobuchar is an attempt to link her voting record to Al Franken's. In fact, while the two have been together on most major issues, she was actually a little right of the center of the Democratic Caucus. Similar members include West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller and Alaska freshman Mark Begich.
  • In his first National Journal voter rankings, Sen. Al Franken was rated the 15th most liberal, tied with Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey and New Mexico's Tom Udall. Casey is up for reelection in 2012, while Franken and Udall are up in 2014.
  • In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Keith Ellison was rated most liberal in Minnesota. Michele Bachmann came in as most conservative. Neither were number one nationally though.
  • In news that might surprise you (it certainly did me), Betty McCollum wasn't second. Jim Oberstar was.
  • Worth remembering for 2012: Tim Walz ranked about as liberal as Erik Paulsen did conservative. Walz and Klobuchar's rankings were almost identical, though based on different bills in different chambers.
  • Rep. Collin Peterson, the Blue Dog Democrat, actually rated a few spots right of center of the entire House, though there were no Republicans to the left of him.

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