MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For weeks, there’s been at least one attack ad from the PAC supporting Jeb Bush against Marco Rubio for missing votes in the U.S. Senate while campaigning for President.
Then, on Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responded to a similar criticism while campaigning in Iowa. He told a woman who asked about flooding in his home state following the weekend blizzard, “I don’t know exactly what you expect me to do. You want me to go down there with a mop?”
Christie later told reporters it was just a joke. But, elected officials fight this critique in every Presidential campaign cycle.
So, can candidates do two jobs at once? Good Question.
Of the candidates running for U.S. President there are two sitting governors and four U.S. Senators. Their salaries, which they continue to collect, range between $148,000 and $175,000 a year.
“I don’t know how much effort they put into it at the beginning, so I don’t know how hard it is for them,” said one Minneapolis man on Tuesday.
Reporters have found Governor Christie has been outside of New Jersey for all or part of 72 percent of the days in 2015.
“I think there’s a difference between being a governor and being a Senator,” Governor Christie told Fox News in early January. “I’m on the job every day. Senator Rubio just hasn’t shown up to vote.”
According to GovTrack, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has missed 38 percent Senate votes since this time last year – the most of any Senator.
In an interview with CBS News, Rubio said, “If there are important votes, decisive votes, I’m going to be there.”
Senator Ted Crux (R-FL) has missed 24 percent, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has missed 10 percent and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has missed 6 percent.
Compare those numbers to 2007, when then-Senator Obama missed 39 percent of the Senate votes and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) missed 58 percent. The average Senator not running for President misses 1 percent.
“Candidates pretend they can do two jobs, but it’s impossible,” says University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs. “They’re cutting corners like you’ve never seen before and it shows.”
He says beyond casting votes in the Senate, candidates must also consider committee responsibilities and meetings with colleagues to bring majorities together.
“There is some work aides can get done,” Jacobs says. “But, you need the member to cut the deal, have the lunch, meet with key constituents, go on the floor to make that speech that brings people together.”
As for why this trend continues every Presidential election cycle, Jacobs says it goes back to getting current elected officials interested in running for President. He points out several of these candidates will be out the race in two weeks and want to go back to a job.
“Resigning the office is a reasonable suggestion,” he says. “On the other hand, they feel like they can balance the two.”