Cravaack ranked as least conservative Republican in MN delegation

WASHINGTON – An influential conservative outside group ranks first-term Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack as the least conservative of the four Republicans in Minnesota’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives based on his voting record in 2011.

The annual rankings by the Club for Growth are important for Republican lawmakers because the group will often back primary challengers for members it deems insufficiently committed to conservative causes. The club describes itself as being committed to lower taxes and limited government and almost exclusively supports Republicans. It was actively involved in the Indiana GOP Senate primary that unseated long time Sen. Richard Lugar.

Cravaack scored a 57 percent on the Club’s scorecard, which means he voted in favor of the group’s position just over half the time. For example, while Cravaack voted against last summer’s agreement to increase the debt ceiling, a position the Club also opposed, the freshman lawmaker voted in favor of several spending bills the group opposed.

Cravaack’s score falls below the 71 percent average for other members of the incoming Republican House class of 2010.

Cravaack’s relatively low score from one of the most politically powerful groups on the right might come in useful in his re-election campaign in the DFL-leaning 8th District. Cravaack’s three DFL opponents have regularly called him an extremist and a member of the tea party, although Cravaack has never formally joined the House Tea Party Caucus.

Rep. Michele Bachmann received a 89 percent score for 2011, followed by Rep. John Kline’s 70 percent and Erik Paulsen’s 64 percent scores.