WASHINGTON — Among Capitol Hill lawmakers from Nebraska and Iowa, Rep. Steve King still holds the crown as the Midlands' “most conservative” member, based on the latest rankings released by National Journal.
Most others were closer to the middle of the pack.
King, an outspoken congressman who represents northwest Iowa, was ranked the 12th-most-conservative member in the previous session of the 435-member House. He is mulling a 2014 bid for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, as is U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, a Republican who represents southwest Iowa, including Council Bluffs.
A GOP primary contest between the two would no doubt highlight the ideological gap between them. Latham was ranked as the House's 134th-most-conservative member — 122 spots behind King.
Their respective rankings reflect why early polling has indicated that King would fare well among the Republican base's primary voters but could face challenges in a general election.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was ranked the Senate's 25th-most-conservative member — pretty close to the middle of the Republican caucus. Harkin, meanwhile, was rated the 15th-most-liberal senator.
On the Nebraska side, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was ranked the 207th-most-conservative member of the House. Fortenberry is weighing a 2014 bid for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., who ranked as the Senate's 36th-most-conservative member.
An outside group, the Senate Conservatives Fund, has already come out against a potential Fortenberry bid, describing the lawmaker from Lincoln as too far to the left for its taste.
Fortenberry has defended his approach as representing a “new conservatism” that is rooted in traditional values but seeks creative solutions for today's challenges.
Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., landed at 192nd on the conservative list, and Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., was listed nearer King at 38th.
Former Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska was ranked as the Senate's second-most-conservative Democrat, just behind Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has been a vocal supporter of former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination for secretary of defense.
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