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How liberal is Barbara Boxer?

January 27, 2010 | 12:16 pm

Republicans hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) this fall are taking delight in an online report from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, which notes several right-leaning organizations have concluded she is more liberal than her colleague Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has described himself as a socialist.

The Institute lays out its evidence in an article titled "How Many Senators Are More Liberal than the Socialist One?" The article cites a report from the National Taxpayers Union, which says Boxer was one of dozens of senators to vote to spend more tax dollars in 2008 than Sanders. The article also says Boxer is rated more liberal than Sanders by the American Conservative Union. Boxer and Sanders are both ranked "100% anti-economic freedom" by the Republican Liberty Caucus.

But liberal groups don't necessarily see Boxer as a bigger champion of their causes than Sanders. A compilation of the voting scorecards of seven big special interests typically affiliated with liberals showed Boxer voted with them 88% of the time. Sanders voted with them 92% of the time.

-- Evan Halper in Sacramento