Jim Ryun ranks third among U.S. House’s most partisan conservatives

Congressman Jim Ryun is the third-most-partisan conservative in the House of Representatives, according to a new analysis by mathematicians at Georgia Tech University.

“I’m a mathematician, not a political scientist. This is just what the math happened to spit out on this particular problem,” said Peter Mucha, one of the report’s authors. He added: “Other ways of measuring might not tag him as being so far to the right.”

Ryun, a Kansas Republican who represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes the western half of Lawrence, has never shied from the conservative label. But his spokesman on Wednesday rejected the analysis.

“Since when can an algorithm tell you a person’s views on something?” said Nick Reid, pointing out that Ryun has voted against two major Republican initiatives — Medicare reform and the No Child Left Behind Act — in recent years.

“If that’s partisanship, I don’t know what is,” Reid said.

The ranking was part of a complicated mathematical analysis of committees during the 107th Congress of 2001-02. To get a deeper look at the workings of the committee, the Georgia Tech team ran the records of all 435 members of the House of Representatives during all 990 roll call votes during that time.

According to the mathematicians, Ryun voted with conservative interests more than anybody but Reps. Tom Tancredo and John Shadegg, Republicans from Colorado and Arizona, respectively.

On the other side of the aisle, Reps. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, James McGovern of Massachusetts and Hilda Solis of California were named the three most partisan Democrats.

“Conservative doesn’t mean partisan,” Reid said.

Kansas Democrats, however, said the analysis showed what they knew all along.

“Congressman Ryun clearly does toe the party line, even in situations — like the Social Security program — where it’s not supported by the American people,” said Mark Simpson, director of the Kansas Democratic Party.

Mucha said he didn’t want to get into the middle of a fray, saying the exercise was more about teaching undergraduates how to use “network theory” than about scoring political points.

“I’m a moderate,” Mucha said. “This particular measure just happened to spit Jim Ryun out as the third-most conservative member of Congress.”