U.S. Rep Gresham Barrett, a Republican candidate for governor of South Carolina, has Congress' worst voting attendance record this year, something Barrett's staff attributes to his divided attention.
A database offered by The Washington Post shows that Barrett, who represents the 3rd Congressional District in the Upstate, missed 337 votes in the last year, or about 34.7 percent of those held. He cast 634 votes of record.
Based on percentages, Barrett's numbers fall second only to former Rep. Hilda Solis, a California Democrat. But she left Congress early to become President Barack Obama's secretary of labor in February.
Solis missed 59 votes, or about 75.6 percent of those held, the Post's tabulation said.
South Carolina's five other House members were in single-digit percentages for missed votes, including Charleston-area representatives Henry Brown, a 1st District Republican, and Jim Clyburn, a 6th District Democrat.
Barrett's Washington, D.C., spokeswoman said the office doesn't dispute the Post's numbers, but said the absences were part of his effort to mount a serious run for governor.
"Serving in Congress while running for governor is a balancing act," said press secretary Emily Tyner. "And he hopes most people will understand."
By comparison, U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tennessee, who is running for governor of his home state, missed 8.1 percent of votes in the same time period.
Tyner said Barrett stayed in touch with his staff and with other Republican leaders so that his participation would be available for the most serious votes.
South Carolina Democrats accused Barrett of shoddy representation. "You have to be there," said state party Executive Director Jay Parmley. "You just can't drop in and vote on the final passage."
He accused Barrett of being available to "warm a seat and get paid by the taxpayers to run for governor."
Barrett's office said some of the missed votes were of minimal consequence, including resolutions congratulating an airline on its 75th anniversary and supporting a national safety day.
Barrett is one of several GOP candidates looking to succeed incumbent Mark Sanford next year. The other GOP hopefuls are Attorney General Henry McMaster, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and state lawmakers Nikki Haley and Larry Grooms.
Democrats in the race are Charleston lawyer Mullins McLeod, Columbia lawyer Dwight Drake, S.C. Education Superintendent Jim Rex and state Sens. Robert Ford and Vincent Sheheen.
Both primaries are June 8.