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Minnesota, Wisconsin Lead Nation in Largest Proportion of House Committee Leadership Posts

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U.S. Representative John Kline's (MN-02) election this week as the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Labor further established the Gopher State's House delegation as one of the most powerful in the nation.

Minnesota now has 3 of its 8 U.S. Representatives holding chairmanships or the ranking member position in the two dozen U.S. House committees (including joint and select committees). James Oberstar (MN-08) chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee while Collin Peterson (MN-07) chairs the Committee on Agriculture.

With 37.5 percent of its House membership now holding such committee leadership positions, Minnesota ties Wisconsin for the highest proportion of its House delegation to hold chairmanships or ranking member status across all 50 states.

Long-serving Wisconsin Representative David Obey (WI-07) chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee, emerging Republican leader Paul Ryan (WI-01) is the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, and GOPer James Sensenbrenner (WI-05) is the Ranking Member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Wisconsin also has an 8-member delegation to the House.

Overall, Minnesota and Wisconsin are tied with Michigan with the fourth largest absolute number of chairmanships and ranking memberships, behind California with 10 (18.9 percent of its delegation), New York with 7 (24.1 percent), and Texas with 5 (15.6 percent). Michigan, however, has a 15-member delegation, so only 20.0 percent of its representatives hold such leadership posts.

Smart Politics recently profiled Representatives Oberstar and Obey as two of the biggest power brokers on Capitol Hill.

With several recently-elected Representatives in Minnesota (Erik Paulsen, Keith Ellison, Michele Bachmann, Tim Walz) and Wisconsin (Gwen Moore, Steven Kagen) the Gopher and Badger States may have reached their peak with the 111th Congress in terms of the largest number of committee leadership positions held by each state.

Highest Proportion of U.S. House Delegations with Committee Chairs or Ranking Members by State

State
Positions
Delegation
Percent
Minnesota
3
8
37.5
Wisconsin
3
8
37.5
West Virginia
1
3
33.3
Alabama
2
7
28.6
Mississippi
1
4
25.0
New York
7
29
24.1
Missouri
2
9
22.2
Michigan
3
15
20.0
Massachusetts
2
10
20.0
Oklahoma
1
5
20.0
California
10
53
18.9
South Carolina
1
6
16.7
Texas
5
32
15.6
Tennessee
1
9
11.1
Indiana
1
9
11.1
Washington
1
9
11.1
Florida
2
25
8.0
Pennsylvania
1
19
5.3
Note: Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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Remains of the Data

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The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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