For 50 years now, the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) — host of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — has been ranking federal and state lawmakers according to what the right-wing group picks as the most important votes of the session.
Wisconsin’s most conservative congressman is Rep. Glenn Grothman, although the group notes in its 116th session of Congress report that he had fallen since his previous rating.
In order of most to least conservative representatives by ACUF were (and the percent of time they voted with the group):
- Glenn Grothman 85%
- Bryan Steil 81%
- Mike Gallagher 64%
- Ron Kind 4%
- Mark Pocan 4%
- Gwen Moore 0%
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who retired from Congress, actually had the highest conservative rating of 90% for the session, while recently elected Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald had not yet been rated.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson scored a 91% (up from his 90% ranking over the past 10 years). Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin scored 4% with a lifetime average of 2%. Some of the votes that gained points were voting against impeaching Donald Trump, and voting to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Other votes ACUF approved of were votes to weaken land and water conservation, cut foreign aid, deregulate banking, limit abortions and — as the group phrased it — “Cutting National Defense to Expand Leftist Welfare Initiatives.”
The group frequently used the word “leftist” in its report.
“In the 2020 session of Congress, leftists leveraged a public health outbreak to tighten their control of the federal government” wrote Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation. “Democrats stymied the conservative agenda and grew the deficit by trillions of dollars. They ignored calls to uphold the integrity of our elections, enabled Big Tech to silence conservatives, and fought to advance the Marxist mission to ‘defund the police.’”
Schlapp also opined that “decades ago, Leftism fastened a hold on a handful of Democrats in Congress. Now, the radical Left directs the actions of a vast majority of them.”
The Wisconsin State Legislature also received rankings, as did it’s members. The Badger State was the 16th most conservative state legislature with a lifetime ranking of 51% and a 2020 ranking of 58%. The group labeled taxes/spending as Wisconsin’s weakest point and “law and judiciary” as far-and-away it’s conservative strong suit.
Here are the 10 all-time most conservative legislators, using votes from both Assembly and Senate for lawmakers who served in both houses:
- Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville)
- Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield)
- Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau)
- Rep. David Craig (R-Big Bend)
- Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Spread Eagle)
- Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls)
- Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater)
- Sen. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac)
- Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point)
- Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin)
Those rated least conservative who are still serving all scored 5% or lower, in order, were Reps. LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee), Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), Tod Ohnstad (D-Kenosha), Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison), Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit). Many other Democrats were listed just a percentage or two higher.
Only 13 representatives over the years of ranking got 100% lifetime records, and none of them hailed from Wisconsin. In fact, the most strongly conservative Wisconsin federal lawmaker, with a 95% voting record with CPAC was Rep. Mark Neumann who served from 1995-1999 in the 1st congressional district and lost subsequent races for governor and U.S. Senate.