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Thursday, April 27, 2017 1:00 am

Donnelly 2nd in Senate in bipartisan rankings

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., was the second most bipartisan member of the Senate during the 2015-16 Congress, according to rankings released Wednesday by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University.

Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th, ranked 24th in the House, the best showing by a Hoosier in that chamber.

The Lugar-Georgetown Bipartisan Index rated Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, as the most bipartisan senator and Rep. Peter King, R-New York, as the most bipartisan House member.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, and former Rep. Tim Huels­kamp, R-Kansas, were the least bipartisan members of their respective chambers, according to the index.

Scores and rankings were determined by how many times a lawmaker co-sponsored a bill introduced by a member of the opposite party and how many times a lawmaker's own bills attracted co-sponsors from the opposite party.

The Lugar Center and Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy awarded positive scores to 45 senators and 152 representatives, meaning they were considered bipartisan. Fifty-three senators and 275 representatives received scores less than zero, indicating they were not bipartisan.

The bipartisan index did not include the majority and minority leaders in the Senate, the House speaker or minority leader, House members who served less than 10 months and representatives who sponsored fewer than three bills.

The Lugar Center is a public policy research and advocacy organization headed by former 36-year Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, whom Donnelly replaced in 2013. The center and Georgetown's McCourt School have compiled bipartisan scores on legislators dating back to 1993. 

“Despite the highly charged political environment of the past several years, Congressional bipartisanship did improve in the 114th Congress as compared to the 113th Congress,” Lugar said Wednesday in a news release.

“The Index shows that many senators and representatives raised their scores in the 114th Congress, so we are encouraged to see that even many lawmakers with strong ideological positions have found more common ground with their colleagues across the aisle,” he said.

Five lawmakers from Indiana received positive scores: Donnelly, Brooks, former Rep. Todd Young, R-9th, and Reps. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, and Jackie Walorski, R-2nd. Six Hoosiers received negative marks: former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., former Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, and Reps. Larry Bucshon, R-8th, Todd Rokita, R-4th, Andre Carson, D-7th, and Luke Messer, R-6th.

Donnelly said in a statement about his second-place Senate ranking: “Good ideas aren't exclusive to one party or the other. As the hired help for Hoosiers, my job is to work in a bipartisan way to get things done for the hard-working people of Indiana.”

Donnelly ranked third in the Bipartisan Index for 2013-14.

Rokita and Messer are considering seeking the Republican Senate nomination to oppose Donnelly in next year's general election. Rokita ranked 278th in bipartisanship in the House for 2015-16, while Messer placed 309th.

Young, elected last year to the Senate seat Coats retired from, ranked 120th in the House for bipartisanship during the 114th Congress. LaGrange County resident Stutzman, who lost the GOP Senate nomination to Young, placed 424th out of 427 House members.

Other Hoosier rankings included Visclosky, 121st; Walorski, 148th; Bucshon, 190th; and Carson, 307th. Coats, now the director of national intelligence, ranked 82nd out of 98 senators.

Among senators, Ohio Republican Rob Portman ranked third, and Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown ranked 68th. Republican Rep. Bob Latta, who represents northwest Ohio's 5th District, placed 213th in the House.

Portman received a positive score from the Bipartisan Index, while Brown and Latta received negative scores.

bfrancisco@jg.net