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Johnson again gets low marks on anti-poverty votes

By Dan Petrella/CU-CitizenAccess -- For the second straight year, U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson has received a D for his voting record on poverty-fighting legislation, according to the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law's annual Poverty Scorecard.

The Urbana Republican, who will face a primary challenge for the first time in more than a decade on March 20, previously received higher marks from the Chicago-based organization, earning a B in 2008 and a C in 2009.

The grades, given to every member of the House and Senate, are based on how lawmakers voted on a series of anti-poverty bills selected by a group of experts.

Dan Lesser, the Shriver Center's director of economic justice, noticed something a little different about the measures included in this year's scorecard.

"In past years, almost every vote important to people in poverty concerned a legislative initiative that would fight poverty. In contrast, most of the votes in 2011 that were of the greatest significance to people in poverty were votes against legislation that would have made poverty even worse," he wrote in a post on the center's website.

Johnson was by no means alone in receiving a low grade. In fact, the gradesa for Illinois' congressional delegations were divided cleanly alone party lines.

Each of the state's 11 Republicans in the House receive a D or lower. GOP Sen. Mark Kirk also earned a D.

Kirk's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Dick Durbin, received an A, and each of the eight Democrats representing Illinois districts in the House received an A or an A-plus.

Here are the grades for the Illinois delegation.

Johnson faces challengers Michael Firsching and Frank L. Metzger in the newly redrawn 13th District.

The congressman's office did not respond to a request for comment.

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