Movers, shakers - and the rest A ranking of clout on the Hill put Specter at No. 2 in the Senate. Of states, N.J. was 49th, Pa. 25th.

Posted: May 17, 2006

WASHINGTON — If power tends to corrupt, as the axiom goes, New Jersey has nothing to worry about.

A new survey that rates the relative power of members of Congress for 2005 places the Garden State 49th among all state delegations.

The good news? It beat out Georgia.

Dragging down New Jersey's score was the rating for Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who, because he only recently returned to the Senate and lacks committee clout, ranked 97th out of 99 senators. New Jersey's other senator, Democrat Robert Menendez, wasn't in office last year.

FOR THE RECORD - CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED MAY 18, 2006, FOLLOWS: A graphic yesterday about lawmakers' power rankings listed an incorrect party affiliation for Reps. Chaka Fattah and Robert A. Brady, who are Pennsylvania Democrats, and the incorrect state for Reps. Frank A. LoBiondo and Jim Saxton, who are New Jersey Republicans.

Other notable rankings included Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R., Pa.), rated second-most-powerful in the chamber after Majority Leader Bill Frist (R., Tenn.), and Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, 13th-most-powerful in the House and third among Democrats.

At No. 12, Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) just missed the top 10.

Among other Pennsylvanians in the House, Republican Curt Weldon was slotted at No. 38; first-term Democrat Allyson Y. Schwartz slogged in at 425th.

The rankings were compiled by Knowlegis, a congressional research company that provides services and software for lobbyists and other government-relations professionals.

Knowlegis developed criteria for the rankings by talking to congressional staff and academic experts. Factors were considered in three broad groups:

Position. How much power a lawmaker could exert because of tenure, committee assignments or leadership positions.

Influence. How much power the lawmaker demonstrated in influencing the congressional agenda or outcome of votes through the media, congressional caucuses, or money contributed to other members through leadership political action committees.

Legislative activity. How much power the lawmaker demonstrated through the passage of legislation or shaping of legislation through amendments.

"We integrated every piece of publicly available data to create an assessment of each member," said Brad Fitch, CEO of Knowlegis. "This may not be the totality of a member's contribution to constituents, but it can serve as a valuable tool for citizens when they are judging their elected officials."

Fitch compared the rankings to baseball cards, providing a "player's" statistics for the season.

Democrats face a huge disadvantage in the ratings because, as the minority party, they do not hold committee chairmanships or control the legislative agenda.

The only Democrat to make the top 10 Senate list was Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who placed fifth.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democrats' 2004 presidential candidate, was a humbling 61st, while potential 2008 contender Hillary Rodham Clinton (D., N.Y.) ranked 41st.

Specter's lofty ranking was due to his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, which handled two Supreme Court nominations and important legislative issues; his position as head of an appropriations subcommittee; as well as his moth-to-flame attraction to the bright lights of TV cameras.

Critics said the criteria were skewed toward the GOP and to lawmakers who delivered pork-barrel projects to constituents.

Lautenberg spokesman Charles Walston called the rankings "silly" and said they considered the senator a technical freshman despite his 20 years' experience in the Senate. "If you look at real accomplishments, few senators come close to Sen. Lautenberg," Walston said.

Eleven of the 19 House members from Pennsylvania are Republicans, which enabled the commonwealth to hold a position of clout in the middle of the pack - 25th among the states.

Schwartz's ranking suffered from her first-term stature as well as challenges in shaping legislation. Nonetheless, spokeswoman Rachel Magnuson said: "Securing $47 million for communities in Philadelphia and Montgomery County speaks to the congresswoman's obvious clout and ability to get things done."

Contact reporter Steve Goldstein at 202-383-6048 or slgoldstein@krwashington.com.

ONLINE EXTRA

Baseball cards for Congress? Read more about the rankings at http://go.philly.com/power

Congressional Power Rankings

The top 10 in each chamber, plus Philadelphia-area lawmakers, as ranked by Knowlegis on 15 criteria demonstrating power and the ability to be effective in Congress in 2005.

Rank/Legislator Score

Senate

1. Bill Frist 96.75 (R., Tenn.)

2. Arlen Specter 82.31 (R., Pa.)

3. John McCain 80.94 (R., Ariz.)

4. Charles Grassley 78.50 (R., Iowa)

5. Harry Reid 71.06 (D., Nev.)

6. Pete Domenici 69.25 (R., N.M.)

7. Mitch McConnell 64.56 (R., Ky.)

8. Ted Stevens 61.56 (R., Alaska)

9. Orrin Hatch 56.75 (R., Utah)

10. Thad Cochran 54.57 (R., Miss.)

12. Rick Santorum 54.44 (R., Pa.)

28. Joseph Biden 40.88 (D., Del.)

96. Thomas Carper 12.50 (D., Del.)

97. Frank Lautenberg 11.50 (D., N.J.)

House

1 J. Dennis Hastert 97.25 (R., Ill.)

2. Tom DeLay 63.50 (R., Texas)

3. Jerry Lewis 60.57 (R., Calif.)

4. Don Young 55.00 (R., Alaska)

5. F. James Sensenbrenner 48.00 (R., Wis.)

6. Joe Barton 45.56 (R., Texas)

7. Bill Thomas 42.13 (R., Calif.)

8. Nancy Pelosi 41.89 (D., Calif.)

9. David Obey 40.00 (D., Wis.)

10. Ralph Regula 38.38 (R., Ohio)

36. Christopher Smith 27.50 (R., N.J.)

38. Curt Weldon 26.19 (R., Pa.)

45. Michael Castle 24.75 (R., Del.)

103. James Saxton 19.79 (R., Pa.)

109. Frank LoBiondo 19.25 (R., Pa.)

206. Jim Gerlach 15.00 (R., Pa.)

236. Charles Dent 14.00 (R., Pa.)

244. Joseph Pitts 13.62 (R., Pa.)

252. Chaka Fattah 13.00 (R., Pa.)

265. Mike Fitzpatrick 12.25 (R., Pa.)

327. Rob Andrews 9.04 (D., N.J.)

348. Tim Holden 8.00 (D., Pa.)

398. Bob Brady 5.75 (R., Pa.)

425. Allyson Schwartz 4.50 (D., Pa.)

Overall state scores

8. Delaware 26.04

25. Pennsylvania 20.01

49. New Jersey 13.71

NOTE: Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) was not in the Senate in 2005.

SOURCE: Congress.org; The Philadelphia Inquirer

|
|
|
|
|