Tim Johnson
Tim Johnson
The Hill is out with its list of the 25 hardest working congressmen and women. I searched it for someone from Illinois, and it wasn’t until I reached number 25 that I finally found one—Tim Johnson, 63, a fifth-term Republican representative from the 15th District, which runs from south of Kankakee to the Ohio River and includes Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, and Danville.

Johnson made the cut for being “constantly on his cell phone . . . usually trying to reach one of his constituents.” He claims that he spends from three to 12 hours a day trying to connect with the 650,000 people in his district and that he and his staff do ten times the average amount of constituent service. Reading the Almanac of American Politics entry on Johnson, I’m sorry he’s not running for the Senate or for the governorship.

Born and reared in Champaign-Urbana, Johnson graduated from the university and its law school, then served in the Illinois House for 24 years before winning an open seat in 2000. One of his opponents that year was the current gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady. The Almanac describes Johnson as a “moderate” with “maverick tendencies” who remained independent from the then Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert. During the George W. Bush years, Johnson voted against oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, against cuts in domestic spending, against the war in Iraq, against the surge in Iraq, and he was the only Republican to vote against renewal of a law allowing “a secret court to approve intelligence surveillance.”

Johnson’s spokesman, Phil Bloomer, said his boss has no higher political ambitions and is happy serving the 15th District. “And that’s the way he wants to keep it,” Bloomer said.

Compiled by asking lawmakers, aides, and “other officials” to name the hardest workers among the 535 senators and representatives, the list does not include “the top House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle . . . because it is a given that leaders work hardest.” So that excludes Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin. No one would expect Roland Burris to make the cut, but what about the other 18 members of the congressional delegation—including Congressman Mark Kirk, who has been busy running for the U.S. Senate (and correcting the military section of his resume)?

Not to worry: The Hill is currently soliciting nominations for its “50 most beautiful” list.  At least one member of the Illinois delegation, Aaron Schock (R-18), is likely to turn up (again).

P.S. The top three hardest workers? The Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, from Iowa, is number one; the Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus is two; and Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat, is three.


Photograph: Timjohnson.house.gov