(CNSNews.com) - They're called RINOs - Republicans in Name Only, and now, they've even got their own awards, dubious to be sure, handed out by the anti-tax Washington group, Club For Growth.
Club For Growth President Stephen Moore said the RINO awards recognize certain Republican office holders around the nation who have advanced what he called "anti-growth, anti-freedom or anti-free market policies."
Winning the 2001 RINO award was Tennessee Republican Governor Don Sundquist.
"Gov. Sundquist wins for repeatedly trying to enact a state income tax. There is nothing that hurts the pro-economic growth cause more than Republicans who promise to hold the line on taxes during the campaign, then get in office and try to raise taxes," according to the Club for Growth.
However, a spokesperson for Sundquist took issue with that description.
"We think this is an inaccurate characterization of the governor. He's always stood for Republican values. He's a fiscal conservative and much of his quest of tax reform has been about changing taxes, lowering some taxes and to say he is Republican in name only is ridiculous," Sundquist's spokesperson Alexia Levison, said.
The "U.S. Senate RINO of the Year" award went to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
"Senator McCain wins for voting against final passage of the Bush tax cut; ... for teaming up with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to push massive new health care regulations; and for becoming the chief Republican Senate sponsor of the bill to make all federal airport screeners federal employees," the club said.
McCain was unavailable for comment, according to spokesperson Rebecca Hanks.
On the House side, Rep. Greg Ganske (R-Iowa) received the group's "U.S. House of Representatives RINO of the Year" award.
"Congressman Ganske wins for being the Republican sponsor of the Democratic bill to federalize airport workers and for sponsoring the Republican version of the so-called 'Health Care Bill Of Rights' legislation," according to the club.
Ganske's Capitol Hill office did not return calls seeking comment.
Six California Republican state legislators were awarded the club's "Legislator RINOs of the Year" award.
"Six California state legislators win for making it possible for Gov. Gray Davis (D-Calif.) to pass his tax increase and bloated budget of 2001. They are: Assemblymen Mike Briggs, Dick Dickerson, David Kelley and Anthony Pescetti as well as state Senators Dick Monteith and Maurice Johannessen. This budget was the first in American history to exceed $100 billion," the club said.
"Davis would not have been able to pass his anti-taxpayer budget without the approval of these six Republican turncoats," the club added.
Briggs had no comment on the award, according to his spokesman Bill Bird. Pescetti was unavailable for comment, according to his office and Dickerson had no comment, according to his office.
Monteith had no comment, according to his spokesman Jake Harless. But Johannessen's spokesman, Andrew Kotch, had a message for the Club For Growth: "Thank You for their thorough study of the budget in recognition of this award."
"These RINOs have done more than anyone to kill the free market agenda of the Republican elephant," said Moore.
"Lower taxes, less regulation and policies that stimulate economic growth, jobs and prosperity for Americans are the bedrock of the Republican Party and those so-called 'Republicans' who work against that agenda aren't really Republicans at all."
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