Harris, Booker miss most votes of senators running in 2020

Kamala Harris and Cory Booker miss most votes of senators running for president in 2020, according to an Associated Press analysis of congressional data

WASHINGTON -- Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have each missed more than one-fifth of the Senates votes so far this year as they campaign for president, according to an Associated Press analysis of congressional data.

With 16 missed votes of the 77 that the Republican-controlled Senate have held in 2019, Harris and Booker far outpace the number missed by their fellow senators also vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sen. Bernie Sanders has missed seven votes so far this year, while Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar have each missed three and Sen. Elizabeth Warren has missed one vote, the AP found.

Seeking the presidency as a sitting member of Congress requires a that often results in candidates taking hits for missed votes as the pace of campaign season picks up. Perhaps the most notable recent example is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who took hits for his missed votes from his rivals — including future President Donald Trump — during the 2016 GOP presidential primary.

When youre a governor or businessman, you can run for president and still do your day job. But when youre a senator or congressman and run for president, youre not voting, which is the single most important part of your job, said Alex Conant, a veteran Republican strategist and Rubios communications director in 2016. So I think theres an inherent conflict that people (who) arent in that position are going to try to exploit.

That doesnt mean, however, that jabbing at presidential candidates for missed votes is effective. While Rubios absenteeism drew criticism from Trump as well as from the Democrat seeking to take his Senate seat in 2016, he still easily won reelection.

And Rubio had missed considerably more votes at a similar point in 2015 than Harris and Booker have during 2019s Senate session so far: The Republican was absent from 25 of the first 77 votes of that year, according to the APs tally. That is 56 more votes than Harris and Booker missed.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also took heat for missed votes from his opponent last year, former congressman turned Democratic presidential hopeful Beto ORourke, and still came out ahead.

Democratic strategist Jesse Lehrich, a former aide to Hillary Clintons 2016 campaign whos not currently affiliated with any presidential candidate, predicted his partys presidential candidates would avoid making missed votes an issue in a primary thats stayed largely free of infighting.

Given the positive tenor on the Democratic side of the campaign thus far, I just cant imagine any candidate trying to disingenuously weaponize it in this primary, Lehrich said. If someone did, I think it would backfire.

Harris and Booker tallied the bulk of their missed votes this month, including the , David Bernhardt, because the two had separately scheduled campaign travel to Iowa. Harris entered a statement in the Congressional Record making clear that she would have voted no on advancing Bernhardt to a final vote.

Asked about his missed votes after a Wednesday campaign stop in Atlanta, Booker told reporters: Im very confident the people of New Jersey know Im working for them and delivering results.

Booker cited work on veterans care and community health centers, along with his sponsorship of bipartisan opportunity zones legislation intended to spur economic growth in disadvantaged, economically depressed areas.

Broadly speaking, none of the Democratic senators running in 2020 have missed votes in which their presence would have affected the result.

Id be shocked if any 2020 Democratic candidate missed a key vote where the outcome was actually up in the air, Lehrich said.

On that point, Conant offered some bipartisan consensus: I never ran into a voter in Iowa or New Hampshire who was concerned that Rubio was missing votes, recalled the Republican, now a partner at the firm Firehouse Strategies. Voters understand that when youre running for president, missing votes comes with the job. The one exception, I think, is if you miss a vote of national significance where your vote could be decisive.

Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Atlanta and Juana Summers in Washington contributed to this report.