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Utah Rep. Jim Matheson: Elephant in a donkey suit?



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Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who returned to office in January, had the fourth highest percentage, voting with the Republicans 54 percent of the time.

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., voted most often against his Republican Party, siding with the Democrats 38 percent of the time.

At a glance

Utah Senator Mike Lee: The anti-Obama

No sitting senator opposed President Barack Obama’s stated position more often that Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, according to a CQ-Roll Call report.

The Washington, D.C., publication found that Lee voted against the president 83.1 percent of the time, just short of former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who left the Senate to run the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, ranked eighth in opposing the president and that was only 58.5 percent of the time.

Lee, a bit surprised by the disparity, gave an understated response.

“I don’t agree with the president on a lot of issues,” he said. “I don’t look to either the president or my party to decide how to vote.”

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The Washington Post conducts its own party unity survey that includes every vote for each two-year term in Congress. In the term that spanned 2009 and 2010, Matheson backed his party 92 percent of the time. In the session that just ended, that number fell all the way to 53 percent.

The long-term trend shows that Matheson’s party unity figure spiked when Democrats controlled the House from 2007 to the end of 2010 and then plummeted when Republicans took over again.

Poole said this could, in part, be explained by the high number of procedural votes where Matheson generally supported his party. Also, in the past two years, Republicans have pushed a number of fiscal measures that attract the support of conservative Democrats like Matheson.

In the past year, Matheson voted with the Republicans and against the majority in his own party to oppose legislation that would raise taxes on the wealthy to avoid the "fiscal cliff," for a proposal to audit the Federal Reserve, for repeal the Affordable Care Act and in favor of holding Attorney General Eric Holder in civil contempt on allegations of withholding documents in a botched gun-running sting operation.

He has voted with the Democrats in opposition to the Republican budget and to extend a payroll tax holiday and emergency unemployment insurance benefits.

mcanham@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mattcanham


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