Ted Cruz Lynch
U.S. Republican Presidential candidate and Senator of Texas Ted Cruz speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

Even Republican lawmakers held their nose last week when Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) skipped a contentious Senate vote on Thursday April in order to attend a fundraiser for his presidential campaign. The 56-43 narrowly approved the nomination of Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s pick for attorney general, to replace outgoing DOJ chief Eric Holder. Cruz has also been absent in hearings held by his most prestigious appointment in the Senate, the Armed Services Committee. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been putting forth his opinion, often vehemently, on issues for which he does not show up to vote on.

“[Lynch’s] consistent refusal to specify any limitations on the power of the President disqualify her from serving as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer,” said Cruz ahead of the vote. (You can see a video of Cruz questioning Lynch, below). “[She] supported the Administration’s boundless legal theory to justify ignoring our nation’s immigration laws. In my view, this makes her unfit to be the Attorney General.”

Ted Cruz did try to prevent Lynch’s nomination, but took a shortcut that even his Republican colleagues chastised. The Lynch nomination was held up for months by filibuster, requiring a 60-person vote for cloture, the end of debate. Cruz voted against cloture, but accurately predicted that Lynch would be approved by at least a 51-vote margin. It was a lost battle. Instead of he sticking around for the actual confirmation vote, Cruz skipped town for a fundraiser in Dallas, fact that was reportedly coyly as an “event in Texas” by his spokesperson.

It’s not uncommon for presidential candidates or other star legislators to miss some votes. Usually, these are for votes seen as less important, like resolutions or bills that are expected to pass or fail by a landslide. Yet Cruz’s absenteeism has been irksome, even to his Republican colleagues. That’s in part because Cruz claimed to lead the opposition to Lynch’s nomination, and because it was symbolic of his opposition to amnesty for immigration. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) did not take kindly to the absence, chastising Cruz indirectly for claiming that the cloture vote was all that mattered.

Ted Cruz is not the only presidential candidate that’s been skipping class at the Senate. He’s closer to number two. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has the worst voting record of all. Before he officially declared his campaign, Rubio’s absences were explained away by spokespeople for a variety of personal and family reasons, ranging from his responsibilities as a father to jury duty. Now that his campaign is official, no one needs to ask. In order to keep up with other presidential candidates, Rubio, like Cruz, it appears that they will have to dodge some responsibilities of their current jobs if they want to be competitive in the 2016 race.

That was certainly the case in 2007 when then-Senators Clinton, Obama, and Dodd skipped a nomination vote for Bush’s choice for attorney general. Why might Senators have to abandon their posts to run for president? Because they have to keep up with their rivals. Cruz and Rubio face a slew of current and former governors, none of whom have such restrictions on their schedules. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Chris Christie are free to travel and fundraise without looking like deadbeats on their job. However, Cruz and Rubio also face Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who’s managed to run his 2016 presidential campaign without missing that many votes. You can be sure that this issue -- doing one’s job -- will come up in debates. Cruz and Rubio in particular will be scrutinized closely in the coming months, especially for votes related to issues central to their campaign, such as immigration, Iran, marriage and the economy.

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