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Groups rate area lawmakers

May 22, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

The nation's most powerful lobbying groups gave widely differing marks to Tri-State area elected officials.

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Six conservative and six liberal organizations rated the lawmakers from zero to 100, based on how well their votes agreed with the group's goals, according to a recent survey by Roll Call Report Syndicate.

The ratings generally followed party lines, with the liberal groups favoring the five Democrats and the conservatives favoring the four Republicans.

An exception was Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who got slightly better marks from liberal groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union than he did from conservative groups such as the National Right to Life Committee.

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The National Abortion Rights Action League and the AFL-CIO gave Specter the highest scores of any Tri-State Republican. He got the lowest score among Republicans from the National Taxpayers Union.

If Specter's votes showed him to be more middle of the road, ratings indicated Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., is the most liberal lawmaker in the region.

Sarbanes got perfect scores from four of the six liberal groups, including Americans for Democratic Action, the National Education Association, the AFL-CIO and NARAL.

Based on the ratings, the most conservative lawmaker was U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., who got perfect scores from the Christian Coalition and National Right to Life Committee. He also scored well with business groups.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., was the only Democrat to get a score of above 50 percent from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"The senator came to Congress to help people and ensure jobs. Any rating she gets probably reflects those core values," said her spokeswoman, Johanna Ramos-Boyer.

U.S. Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va., said he doesn't pay much attention to the lobbying groups' ratings.

"What's more important is whether the voters know whether you're fighting for them on issues that are important to them," he said.

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