WASHINGTON (AP) — Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have each missed more than one-fifth of the Senate's 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 logistical juggling act 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 you're a governor or businessman, you can run for president and still do your day job. But when you're a senator or congressman and run for president, you're not voting, which is the single most important part of your job," said Alex Conant, a veteran Republican strategist and Rubio's communications director in 2016. "So I think there's an inherent conflict that people (who) aren't in that position are going to try to exploit."
Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Cory Booker
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) listens to CIA Director Mike Pompeo respond to his question as Pompeo testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Pompeo's nomination to be secretary of state on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) answers questions at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Film Interactive Festival 2017 in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) waves after Senate Republicans unveiled their version of legislation that would replace Obamacare on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) attends New York premiere "Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice" at Radio City Music Hall in New York, March 20, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the second day of confirmation hearings on Senator Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) nomination to be U.S. attorney general in Washington, U.S., January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) addresses the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum in Washington March 9, 2015.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks during a news conference with fellow Democrats and unemployed Americans to highlight their political divide with Republicans over unemployment insurance legislation, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, January 16, 2014. Efforts to renew emergency federal jobless benefits for 1.5 million Americans stalled in the Senate on Tuesday when Democrats and Republicans rejected each other's proposals. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
U.S. Senators' Cory Booker (D-NJ) (C), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John McCain (R-AZ) (lowerR) are pictured in the gallery prior to U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) stands next to his mother Carolyn Booker (C) after U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden (R) ceremonially swore in Booker as the latest U.S. Senator in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 31, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats welcomed a new colleague to the U.S. Senate on Thursday, newly elected Booker, and the additional vote Booker gives them in the Senate. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker delivers a speech during his campaign's election night event in Newark, New Jersey, October 16, 2013. Democrat Booker, the charismatic mayor of Newark, was the unofficial winner of a New Jersey special election on Wednesday, handily defeating a conservative Republican to fill the state's vacant U.S. Senate seat. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
Newark New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker listens to U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaking to students during a visit to the Maple Avenue school in Newark, New Jersey, November 18, 2010. Michelle Obama was making the visit along with Booker to promote her "let's Move" initiative to reduce childhood obesity. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)
Newark Mayor Cory Booker (R) speaks to the media outside a burned house in Newark, New Jersey, April 13, 2012. Booker said on Friday he was no superhero, only a good neighbor when he broke free from his security detail to dash into a burning house and rescue a woman. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)
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That doesn't mean, however, that jabbing at presidential candidates for missed votes is effective. While Rubio's 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 2019's Senate session so far: The Republican was absent from 25 of the first 77 votes of that year, according to the AP's 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 O'Rourke, and still came out ahead.
Democratic strategist Jesse Lehrich, a former aide to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign who's not currently affiliated with any presidential candidate, predicted his party's presidential candidates would avoid making missed votes an issue in a primary that's stayed largely free of infighting.
"Given the positive tenor on the Democratic side of the campaign thus far, I just can't 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 confirmation of Trump's nominee to lead the Interior Department , 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.
Kamala Harris early in her career
Kamala Harris early in her career
San Francisco district attorney candidate Kamala Harris, left, serves lunch to an unidentied visitor while volunteering at Thanksgiving service at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2003. Glide church has been feeding the needy for years, this Thanksgiving about 1,200 volunteers helped prepare 6,000 meals from 1,000 turkeys and 600 hams. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
San Francisco's new district attorney, Kamala Harris, right, receives the oath of office from California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George, left, during inauguration ceremonies Thursday, Jan. 8, 2004, in San Francisco. In the center is Harris' mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, who holds a copy of "The Bill of Rights." Harris, a political novice and career prosecutor, became San Francisco's chief law enforcer Thursday and California's first district attorney of Indian and black descent. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris poses for a portrait in San Francisco, Friday, June 18, 2004. The December election of a new district attorney was supposed to signal a turning point for police-prosecutor relations in San Francisco, where lofty, ultra-liberal ideals sometimes clash with the street-level realities of law enforcement. But after ousting her former boss on a pledge to restore order to the DA's office, Kamala Harris has faced unforeseen trials with her colleagues in blue. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom holds a Thanksgiving meal while volunteering at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco Thursday, Nov. 25, 2004. Glide prepared more than 5,000 meals for Thanksgiving. Also pictured are San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, center, and Newsom's wife Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, second from right. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who as a prosecutor once specialized in child sexual assault cases addresses the Domestic Human Trafficking symposium in Los Angeles, Friday, April, 25, 2014. According to a 2005 International Labour Organization paper, human trafficking, or sexual servitude and forced labor, brings in about $32 billion annually, making it the second most profitable criminal enterprise after illegal arms trafficking. The vast majority of those trafficked are women and children, from all milieus of society. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
** CORRECTS SPELLING OF LASHUAN HARRIS ** San Francisco district attorney Kamala Harris, right, speaks at a news conference about Lashuan Harris in San Francisco, Friday, Oct. 21, 2005. Lashuan Harris, the women seen dropping her young sons into San Francisco Bay, pleaded innocent to three counts of murder. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney (Photo by Steve Jennings/WireImage for Conde Nast media group) *** Local Caption ***
Belva Davis, Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney, and Laura Michalchyshyn of the Sundance Channel (Photo by Steve Jennings/WireImage for Conde Nast media group)
VENICE, CA - NOVEMBER 03: San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris attends the 'Choose Or Lose Your Toys' event at the Obsolete Gallery on November 3, 2009 in Venice, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Obsolete)
En esta fotografía de archivo del 17 de junio de 2009, la fiscal de distrito de San Francisco Kamala Harris, a la izquierda, aplaude mientras el nuevo jefe de la policía George Gascon, en el podio, es presentado por el alcalde Gavin Newsom, a la derecha, en San Francisco. Las actitudes tolerantes que tuvieron hacia los indocumentados podrían descarrilar las candidaturas a gobernador de California de dos prominentes figuras de la política en San Francisco: Harris y Newson. (Foto AP/Eric Risberg, Archivo)
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris was one of six candidates taking part in the democratic primary debate for Attorney General at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, May 18, 2010. The remaining four candidates are Chris Kelly, Ted Lieu, Pedro Nava and Alberto Torrico. (Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SALINAS, CA - NOVEMBER 01: San Francisco district attorney and democratic candidate for California attorney general Kamala Harris laughs as she sits backstage before a get-out-the-vote rally at the National Steinbeck Center on November 1, 2010 in Salinas, California. With one day to go until Election Day, Jerry Brown is wrapping up his three day campaign trip throughout California in hopes of defeating his republican challenger and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, California Attorney General Kamala Harris gives her first news conference in Los Angeles. Harris asked a federal appeals court on Tuesday, march 1, 2011, to allow gay marriages to resume while the court considers the constitutionality of the state's voter approved ban on same sex unions. The request came after the California Supreme Court said it needed the rest of the year to consider a legal question the appeals court said it needs answered before it can resolve the case. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - OCTOBER 01: Jason Binn and Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris pose at Provocateur circa October 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Binn/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 05: Attorney General Kamala Harris attends the Fifth Annual Kidstock Music and Arts Festival at Greystone Mansion on June 5, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 18: California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks onstage at the Public Counsel's William O. Douglas Award Dinner held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 18, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, right, and Michael Troncoso, Senior Counsel to the Attorney General, left, listen as mortgage fraud victim Jacqueline Marcelos speaks at a roundtable of foreclosure victims at Mission Economic Development Agency in San Francisco, on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 13: California Attorney General Kamala Harris participates in TheWrap's 'The Power Of Leadership' brunch at Scarpetta on December 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for TheWrap)
Californbia Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC (Photo by Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Corbis via Getty Images)
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 4, 2012 on the first day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The DNC is expected to nominate US President Barack Obama to run for a second term as president. AFP PHOTO Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 11: California Attorney General Kamala Harris (L) looks on as California Governor Jerry Brown (R) speaks to reporters after signing the California Homeowner Bill of Rights (AB 278 and SB 900) on July 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Homeowners Bill of Rights that establishes landmark protection rules for mortgage loan borrowers. The laws go into effect on January 1, 2013. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris speaks with supporters at the California Democrats State Convention in San Diego, CA on Saturday, February 11, 2012 in San Diego, CA. Harris has helped Californian homeowners by lobbying for a large share of federal funds to help with the massive foreclosure crisis in the state. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Corbis via Getty Images)
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - DECEMBER 12: California Attorney General Kamala Harris arrives at the Breakthrough Prize Inaugural Ceremony at NASA Ames Research Center on December 12, 2013 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 30: California State Attorney General Kamala Harris appears at the Gay Pride Parade on June 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Arun Nevader/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17: California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks at a news conference on May 17, 2013 at the Los Angeles Civic Center in Los Angeles, California. Harris hosted a meeting of the state's district attorneys to develop recommendations on reducing gun violance. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Asked about his missed votes after a Wednesday campaign stop in Atlanta, Booker told reporters: "I'm very confident the people of New Jersey know I'm 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.
"I'd 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 you're 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.