Two Colorado congressmen have scored big awards for their congressional voting records, earning the American Conservative Union's Award for Conservative Excellence.
Congressmen Ken Buck of the 4th District and Doug Lamborn of the 5th received high marks from the conservative lobbying group for approving core conservative issues more than 95 percent of the time. The award is essentially for toeing the Republican Party line over a variety of issues, ranging from last year's Obamacare repeal attempts to defunding Planned Parenthood to eliminating sanctuary cities.
“Coloradans sent me to the swamp to stand up for limited government, free market principles and family values,” says Buck, whose 98.77 American Conservative Union Foundation lifetime voting percentage ranks the highest of all of Colorado members of Congress. ”I promise to keep up the fight — for my family, my community, and for all of the Americans who believe that conservative solutions are better for America than the tired liberal policies of the left.”
Buck and Lamborn are pretty well known for being among the more conservative members of Congress, representing solidly Republican districts (Buck's district is mostly the eastern plains, and Lamborn's is mainly Colorado Springs). But what might be surprising is who follows Buck in the pecking order of Colorado's more conservative congressional representatives, at least based on the ACUF's metrics. The ACUF is a conservative lobbying group headed by Matt Schlapp, a former director of political affairs for President George W. Bush.
Congressman Mike Coffman received relatively high marks from the ACUF. Coffman's 86.31 lifetime percentage puts him ahead of the Republican House of Representatives lifetime average of 82 percent and narrowly ahead of fellow Colorado Republican Scott Tipton (85.35 percent).
Coffman has shifted to the political center since 2011 redistricting made his seat more competitive, but his voting record has been attacked by the left, particularly as he faces what will likely be a difficult re-election challenge this fall. Coffman wants to be seen as more of a centrist Republican, as he represents a diverse, suburban district that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. His moderate stances have often come through in immigration reform — he attempted to introduce a series of bills on Wednesday aimed at resolving the DREAMer issue — and he's also been a frequent critic of President Donald Trump and didn't vote for him in 2016.
To the surprise of no one, the ACUF gave Colorado's entire Democratic delegation extremely low scores. The lowest-scoring was 7th District Democrat Ed Perlmutter, with a whopping 3.58 percent, followed closely by 1st District Democrat Diana DeGette (3.96 percent). Both Perlmutter and DeGette fall under the Democratic lifetime average of just 5 percent.
Per the ACUF, anything under 10 percent means the congressperson is part of the "radical left."
Second District (Boulder) Representative and gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis received the ACUF's highest marks among Colorado Democrats, garnering 10.57 percent. Polis managed to barely eke out of the radical left by agreeing with Republicans on a handful of issues, including his support of limiting subsidies to rural airports.
Republican Senator Cory Gardner got an 80.58 percent lifetime average, right in the center of the Republican senatorial average of 80 percent. Gardner's 2017 votes, which were less conservative than his yeas and nays when he was in the House of Representatives, got him 76 percent.
The list prioritizes voting trends and doesn't take anti-Trump rhetoric into account. For example, Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, perhaps Trump's harshest Republican critic in all of Congress, received an ACUF Award for Conservative Excellence based on his voting record.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.