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12 Days And Counting: Minnesota Already At 4th Longest Stint Without Two Senators in State History

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Since January 3rd, when Norm Coleman's first term as U.S. Senator came to an end, Amy Klobuchar has officially been doing double-duty as the state's lone Senator on Capitol Hill. Klobuchar has stated her office started receiving a noticeable increase in constituency requests beginning in December, to the tune now of about double the normal constituency workload.

Minnesota's Class II Senate seat will remain unoccupied until Governor Tim Pawlenty is permitted to make an appointment or until the election contest filed by Coleman reaches its final resolution in the courts. While the first scenario may never happen, the latter is sure to take several weeks.

The Gopher State has been represented by just one Senator several times in state history - with the current vacancy being the tenth in total. However, in all but three of the prior instances, the state endured the loss of a Senator for less than two weeks.

At twelve days and counting, Minnesota is already at its fourth longest stint with just one Senator on Capitol Hill. With the Coleman contest projected to last until at least late February, according to a recent proposal by attorneys for the Coleman campaign, the current empty Senate seat will almost assuredly become the 2nd longest in state history.

The longest stretch Minnesota ever went with being represented by only one Senator was in 1923, after the death of 5-term Republican Senator Knute Nelson on April 28th of that year. A special election was not held for 78 days, when Farmer-Laborite Magnus Johnson easily defeated Republican Jacob Aall Ottesen Preus and Democrat Jas A. Carley on July 16th.

The second longest stint occurred after the death of Farmer Laborite Ernest Lundeen on August 31, 1940. The appointment of Republican Joseph H. Ball did not take place until 43 days later, on October 14, 1940.

Seven of the previous nine instances in which Minnesota was without two Senators occurred due to death: Daniel S. Norton (1870), Cushman K. Davis (1900), Knute Nelson (1923), Thomas D. Schall (1935), Ernest Lundeen (1940), Hubert H. Humphrey (1978), and Paul Wellstone (2002). There was also a 4-day period without a Senator after Republican William Windom resigned to become President James Garfield's Treasury Secretary in March 1881; Alonzo Edgerton was appointed to the seat. When Edgerton's appointment ended in October of that year, there was then a 15-day stretch until Windom (having resigned his Treasury post) again took office in mid-November.

Periods with Only One U.S. Senator in Minnesota State History

Outgoing
Date
Reason
Incoming
Date
Days
Knute Nelson
04/28/1923
Death
Magnus Johnson
07/16/1923
78
Ernest Lundeen
08/31/1940
Death
Joseph H. Ball
10/14/1940
43
Alonzo J. Edgerton
10/30/1881
End of appt.
William Windom
11/15/1881
15
Norm Coleman
01/03/2009
Contested election
???
???
12+
Hubert H. Humphrey
01/13/1978
Death
Muriel Humphrey
01/25/1978
11
Paul Wellstone
10/25/2002
Death
Dean Barkley
11/05/2002
10
Cushman K. Davis
11/27/1900
Death
Charles A. Towne
12/05/1900
7
Thomas D. Schall
12/22/1935
Death
Elmer A. Benson
12/27/1935
4
William Windom
03/07/1881
Resigned
Alonzo J. Edgerton
03/12/1881
4
Daniel S. Norton
07/13/1870
Death
William Windom
07/15/1870
1



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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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