Who’s Got the Power?

Congress.org released its congressional power rankings on Monday — a gold mine of data that brings a smile to both the political numbers junkies and popularity Heathers.

The power rankings are derived by a series of objective and subjective criteria including leadership positions, earmark success, legislative activity and pure political influence. It’s like 7th grade student council on steroids and with real money involved.

Of the 100 members in the U.S. Senate, neither low-key, first-term Sen. Ken Salazar or even lower-key Wayne Allard, who is retiring this year, have achieved a significant base of power in the more staid chamber of Congress.

In the House, Rep. Diana DeGette was the super-duper overachiever — ranking within the top 15 percent of all members of Congress. The Denver congresswoman also bested all of her Colorado delegation colleagues by a wide margin.

Freshman Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s second-place finish in the Colorado delegation could foreshadow a long career in Congress with a higher ranking than all of the state Republican members and two of his fellow Democrats — each with longer Capitol Hill experience.

Colorado Springs’ Rep. Doug Lamborn, who faces another tough primary battle this summer, ranks last in the state delegation and is just 24 spots from the bottom ranking of all 435 House members.

Colorado itself ranks 47th in power largely due to the fact that, aside from DeGette and Perlmutter, the remaining representatives are in the bottom 50 percentof House members.

The low ranking of Reps. Mark Udall, John Salazar, Tom Tancredo, Marilyn Musgrave and Doug Lamborn could be explained in a number of different ways.

The shaking out of the House power structures once dominated by the GOP through the mid-1990s until 2006 when the Democrats took control of the chamber left Colorado’s delegation in the lurch with primo committee leadership positions gobbled up by longer-tenured colleagues.

Another equally plausible reason is that Colorado has a relatively small delegation, with strict ideological boundaries between its members, and this limits their ability to band together as a political force.

Or maybe some of them are just not all that politically savvy in the bare-knuckles world of Capitol Hill politics where lectern grandstanding with nifty visual aids and getting booked on the Sunday morning political shows with the Very Important People is a necessary rite of passage in congressional Heather-dom.

To view all the Power Rankings, go to Congress.org.

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Wendy Norris

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