Any number of organizations -- from the American Conservative Union to Planned Parenthood -- ranks members of Congress on various criteria based on their votes, and they are always fun parlor games to see how particular influential organizations favor members. And when a neutral party rates them on a conservative-liberal continuum, as National Journal has done today for 93 key votes cast in 2010, it's worth a look as well to see how Pennsylvania folks have positioned themselves within that nutty land that is Capitol Hill.
Among the local delegation, Blair's Bill Shuster is by far the most conservative, but he's hardly Jim Jordan, ranking No. 58 overall. Glenn Thompson, of Centre County, is No. 131. Upper St. Clair's Tim Murphy is No. 165 -- seven spots from the bottom of the (much smaller) Republican caucus from the last Congress.
Johnstown Rep. Mark Critz was the 187th most conservative member, which tied him for the 14th most conservative Democrat. McCandless' Jason Altmire tied for 18th most conservative Democrat, 191st overall. Rep. Mike Doyle, of Forest Hills, was on the Nancy Pelosi end of the pendulum, as the 19th most liberal member of the 111th Congress.
These rankings, aside from entertaining us on a Friday afternoon, are useful campaign fodder: Altmire's office already put out a press release trumpeting his "right of center" record (though in the new Republican-controlled Congress he will certainly become left of the repositioned center). And a Democratic source passed along the rankings with a note that three possible House GOP challengers to Sen. Bob Casey -- Murphy, Chester County's Jim Gerlach (No. 137) and Allentown's Charlie Dent (No. 168) -- have conservative rankings low enough to be a liability in any Republican primary.
UPDATE: 2:57 p.m. Altmire also got some conservative lovin' this week from the Heritage Foundation, which gave him a shout-out as one of 19 Democrats most willing to cut spending based on their amendment votes to the temporary government funding measure that passed the House last week. Still, Altmire and the entire Democratic caucus voted against the bill.