Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has missed nearly 92 percent of House votes this year while campaigning for president.
Paul’s bid for the White House has lost steam in recent weeks, but he has given little indication he will drop out of the race. The congressman has announced he will not seek a 10th term.
It is not uncommon for Republican and Democratic members running for the White House to miss congressional votes. For example, then-Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) were rarely seen on Capitol Hill during their 2008 presidential primary clash.
The Hill reported last July that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) had missed about 37 percent of votes in the House since launching her presidential bid. At that time, Paul had missed only 8 percent of the votes since announcing his White House run in mid-May.
Since then, his absenteeism rate has soared. In 2012, Paul has missed 136 votes while casting only 15.
According to GovTrack.us, Paul has missed 91.8 percent of roll call votes for the first quarter of 2012, the highest in his career. He went long stretches this year without setting foot on the House floor and then would show up to vote on a high-profile bill before jetting off again.
During the longest of these stretches, from Jan. 19 to Feb. 27, he was absent for 69 votes in a row. Paul last voted on March 29 on two amendments to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget. He missed the final vote on passage, however.
“In general, legislators try to keep their participation rates exceedingly high, since no one wants a challenger running an ad against him/her for missing votes,” said Sarah Binder, professor of political science at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “But Rep. Paul’s running for president and he’s giving up his House seat, so I doubt he’s worried about being attacked for failing to show up for work in the House.”
In 2008, Paul had to fend off a primary challenger who accused the lawmaker of not focusing on his Texas district.
Paul, 76, has attracted a large following and amassed large campaign war chests for his 2008 and 2012 White House bids. But he has failed to capture a state in his two most recent campaigns for the presidency.
Binder said, “I don’t see the inconsistency between advocating limited government and failing to participate in every roll call vote. This is just a reality of our political system and the way that it fosters political ambition. It’s common for politicians to run progressively for higher and higher offices, and it’s tough to hold one office and run for another at the same time.”
Paul has not been campaigning as much as he was earlier this year. On March 20, he appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”
Paul’s office did not comment for this article.
— Oliver Bussell contributed.