U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson’s voting record last year shows he is a conservative but not nearly as conservative as he was in 2011, according to a ranking of key votes by the National Journal.
The National Journal, a magazine and website, has ranked members of Congress as liberals and conservatives for three decades based on votes they cast. The rating for 2012 looked at 116 key votes on economic, social and foreign policies.
Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, ranked as the 45th most conservative member of the U.S. House in 2011, his freshman year as a congressman. In the 2012 rating, he dropped 90 spots to the 135th most conservative member of the House. There were 241 Republicans in the House last year.
In 2011, Johnson voted more conservative than 84.5 percent of his colleagues. That dropped to 70 percent last year, according to the rating. The decline can largely be attributed to Johnson’s votes on foreign policy with his ranking falling from voting more conservative than 86 percent of his colleagues in 2011 to 59 percent last year.
Johnson’s district includes all of Columbiana County and the southern portion of Mahoning County.
The Journal congressional scorecard is widely used during campaigns to label members of Congress as liberals or conservatives.
And it’s not without some controversy. On its website, the National Journal writes “that no single measure of voting behavior is likely to be perfect,” and the ratings “should be viewed as a tool in assessing a member of Congress, but not the only tool.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, ranked as the 132nd most liberal House member in 2012, voting more liberal than 70.8 percent of his colleagues. There were 193 Democrats in the House last year.
In 2011, Ryan voted more liberal more than 70.2 percent of his fellow House members, a slight decline in liberal voting compared to 2012. Ryan was ranked in 2011 as the 142nd most liberal member, largely because some other Democrats’ liberal voting percentages increased even more than his from 2011 to 2012.
Ryan’s district includes most of Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Republican Steven C. LaTourette of Bainbridge — who opted not to seek re-election last year partly because of what he said is a lack of bipartisanship in Congress — was ranked last year as the 234th most conservative House member and its 189th most liberal member. Only four Republicans had more liberal voting records than him.
In the 2011 rating, LaTourette, who represented the 14th District which includes northern Trumbull County, was ranked as the 240th most conservative House member and like last year, the 189th most liberal.
In the 2012 rating, LaTourette voted more liberal than 53.5 percent of all House members.
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler, Pa., who represents all of Mercer County and most of Lawrence County, was the 143rd most conservative House member last year compared to 132nd in 2011. In 2012, Kelly voted more conservative than 66.8 percent of House members, down from 72 percent in 2011.
On the U.S. Senate side for Ohioans, Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, was in a three-way tie with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin for the 7th most liberal member of that legislative body. The three voted more liberal than 87.5 percent of U.S. senators last year. There were 51 Democrats in the Senate and two independents who caucused with the party last year.
Brown was the fifth most liberal senator in 2011 even though he voted more liberal than 85.5 percent of senators.
In 2010, Brown was tied with eight other Democrats as the most liberal with an 83.3 percent liberal vote.
So even though his votes were more liberal in 2012 compared with the two previous years, Brown’s rating as a liberal senator declined.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, was the 33rd most conservative senator last year. There were 47 Republicans in the Senate last year. Portman was the 35th most conservative senator in 2011, according to the rankings.
Portman voted more conservative than 71.5 percent of senators last year, up from 70.2 percent in 2011.