Wayne Allard: The Invisible Man

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In a Senate full of ambitious members, Colorado Republican Wayne Allard is so bland that his critics have dubbed him "Dullard." Now in his 10th year, Allard almost never plays a role in major legislation, even though he's on two key Senate committees, Budget and Appropriations. The veterinarian rarely speaks on the floor or holds press conferences to push his ideas. Few of the bills he has introduced over the past year have passed; in fact, since Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar entered the Senate last year, Salazar's legislative output has dwarfed Allard's, even though Allard has the advantages of seniority and of being a Republican in a G.O.P.-dominated Congress.

Despite his skimpy record, Allard, 62, is well liked among his colleagues. He's polite, affable and willing to take on thankless tasks, such as his current role overseeing the construction of a visitors center on Capitol Hill. A fiscal conservative, he has given back to the federal Treasury unspent money from his office. But he made such a small impression in Colorado that he had trouble getting re-elected in 2002, according to E. Scott Adler, a political science professor at the University of Colorado. Allard has that kind of anonymity in Washington too, and it makes him one of its least influential senators.