Democratic senators say Sen. Orrin Hatch is just about the easiest Republican to work with in their chamber, according to a survey by The Hill newspaper.
In fact, Hatch ranks No. 3 among Republicans whom Democrats say are the least partisan and most enjoyable to work with — behind only Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine (liberal Republicans who were among the few GOP members who supported Obama's stimulus package), that newspaper reported.
That is a big change from Hatch's early career, when he was seen as one of the most conservative and pugnacious Senate Republicans. Now, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., told The Hill, for example, that Hatch is among those who "want to get something done, and they're not necessarily driven by ideology."
The survey was done amid calls by President Barack Obama for more bipartisanship in Congress.
The Hill asked each of the 99 currently seated senators which members of the opposite party were the least partisan, and also (but not for attribution) which were the most partisan and difficult with which to work.
Hatch was listed by nine Democrats as being among the most willing to work in a bipartisan manner. Those listing him included: Menendez; Roland Burris, D-Ill.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Chris Dodd, D-Conn.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii; Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.; Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, did not make the top five, most bipartisan Republicans. But he was mentioned as such by four Democrats: Dodd; Ben Nelson, D-Neb.; Rockefeller; and Shaheen.
Republicans reported that the easiest Democrats to work with are: Edward Kennedy D-Mass.; Tom Carper, D-Del.; Dodd; Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; and Harkin.
When it came to whom is the most difficult and partisan to work with, Republicans said it is: Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Dodd (the only person to make both the most difficult and easiest to work with lists); Dick Durbin, D-Ill; and John Kerry, D-Mass.
Democrats said the Republicans that are the most partisan and difficult to work with are: Jim Bunning, R-Ky.; David Vitter, R-La.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.