In the race for Daniel Akaka‘s U.S. Senate seat, Rep. Mazie Hirono has repeatedly talked about working with Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska to prove that she is willing to cross party lines.
But during the candidates’ first debate last week, Republican Linda Lingle said that Hirono’s voting record shows otherwise. Lingle said that Hirono votes with Democrats 96 percent of the time.
The campaign repeated the assertion on its website:
“Congresswoman Hirono votes with her party 96 percent of the time,” the statement said. “Her actions and her words do not reflect a collaborative leader who can work with others, whose views may differ from her views.”
Is Lingle correct?
According to OpenCongress, a non-partisan resource for civic information, out of 1,551 total votes in the 112th Congress, Hirono voted with the Democratic party 95.3 percent of the time. That’s 1,478 votes with Democrats, leaving only 73 votes that crossed the aisle.
Out of all 190 Democratic representatives, OpenCongress ranked Hirono number 16 for voting with her party, making her one of the most consistently left-voting lawmakers in the House.
The Lingle campaign bases its “96 percent” figure on the Washington Post’s U.S. Congress Votes Database. The Post’s database is a little out of date compared with OpenCongress — as of Sept. 14 it took into account only 1,527 votes, rather than 1,551.
But because the Lingle campaign made the statement on Sept. 6, Civil Beat calculated what Hirono’s record was on that day by subtracting the votes Hirono made between Sept. 6 and Sept. 14.
On Sept. 6, Hirono had voted with the Democratic Party 1,465 times and against it 58 times, meaning that she sided with liberals 96.2 percent of the time.
Interestingly, out of the 28 votes that occurred in the last few days, all 15 times that Hirono voted “against party” occurred when she chose to abstain. In contrast, when she voted “Aye” or “Nay”, she consistently sided with the Democrats.
It’s worth noting that Hirono’s current record of voting with liberals — 95.3 percent — is not far from the average. The average Democrat votes with the party 93.1 percent of the time.
To put Hirono’s record in context, Sen. Daniel Akaka, whose seat Lingle and Hirono are gunning for, votes with Democrats 93.8 percent of the time. He’s only broken with the party line 24 times in the 112th Congress.
Hawaii’s District 1 Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is a tiny bit more left-leaning than Hirono, siding with liberals 95.5 percent of the time.
Although Hirono is considered a “far left Democrat” even by nonpartisan standards, she has received Republican endorsements. Republican Rep. Don Young from Alaska endorsed Hirono in August, praising her bipartisanship. John Carroll, Lingle’s Republican foe in the primary race, has endorsed Hirono as well.
BOTTOM LINE: Lingle said that Hirono votes with the Democratic Party 96 percent of the time. The correct figure as of Sept. 14 is actually 95.3 percent. But because the statement was made on Sept. 6 and Hirono’s record at that time was 96.2 percent, Civil Beat finds this statement to be TRUE.
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