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Tim Walz Plays Hardball...and Goes Hitless

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On Tuesday afternoon rookie Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz (MN-01) was interviewed by Chris Matthews on MSNBC's political show Hardball. Earlier in the day Walz had spoken multiple times on the floor of the U.S. House supporting a Democrat-backed resolution criticizing President George W. Bush's decision to add more troops to Iraq.

Walz's counterpart on Hardball was Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia; though Kingston is also a new member of the House, he put Walz on the defensive throughout most of the interview.

Kingston stated Democrats needed to come up with an actual plan and "put their money where their mouth is" instead of focusing on non-binding resolutions.

Walz countered that the Democrats did have a plan—but he focused on generalities, such as fixing the "failed plan and failed policy" of the Bush administration and better "securing the nation from the war on terror."

Kingston took advantage of his minority party status and pounced on Walz:

"You guys are now in the front seat, get out of the backseat and start driving the car. This is a non-binding, silly, intramural resolution...If this thing is a lost cause ... why are we spending more and more days there. Why not introduce an immediate withdrawal? ... If we are fighting a lost cause we need to bring the troops home tomorrow."

Walz seemed uncomfortable with the position Kingston had placed him, and the Minnesota Congressman faced the camera speechless for nearly 5 seconds.

When asked by Matthews if there would be a vote on funding for the war sometime this year, Walz said 'yes.'

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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