These days you can’t swing an NPR tote bag in the upper chamber without hitting a liberal senator. This year, the Senate saw the additions of Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Tim Kaine, and Chris Murphy. They will surely fit in with the likes of Sens. Sherrod Brown, Al Franken, and Dick Durbin. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if any of these big names won the title of “Most Liberal Senator.”

That title did not, however, end up going to a particularly visible member. Instead, it was split by two relatively new and relatively unknown members: Tom Udall of New Mexico and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

That’s not to say that these senators were not in the news. Udall led the charge for filibuster reform, a mission he has been on for years. And while the final result fell far short of his proposal, even a small change in Senate procedure is an accomplishment. And Blumenthal found himself at the center of the gun-control debate, after the tragic school shootings in Newtown in his home state. Since then, he has called for the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and elimination of loopholes that allow some gun sales without background checks.

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