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Klobuchar and Franken to Get Boost in Senate Seniority After 2010 Election

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Gopher State delegation currently has second lowest collective seniority in the U.S. Senate

Minnesota's fresh-faced U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are on the verge of a much-needed boost in seniority in 2011, given the rash of retirements that have been announced in the 2010 election cycle, and the potential ousting of even more sitting Senators at the ballot box this November.

The Gopher State U.S. Senate delegation currently is ranked second to the bottom for collective years of service in the Senate, at just 3.7 years to date, and for its cumulative seniority ranking of 178.

Senator Klobuchar has a seniority ranking of #80 while Franken comes in at #98.

Only Colorado's tandem of Democratic Senators Mark Udall and 2009 appointee Michael Bennet rank lower in both categories (2.2 years and 191 respectively).

Eight U.S. Senators who have a higher seniority ranking than both Klobuchar and Franken are not seeking reelection in 2010: Chris Dodd (#9, CT), Kit Bond (#21, MO), Byron Dorgan (#27, ND), Judd Gregg (#29, NH), Sam Brownback (#38, KS), Jim Bunning (#48, KY), George Voinovich (#51, OH), and Evan Bayh (#52, IN).

An additional two Democratic Senators (both appointees) who have a higher ranking than Franken will also retire: Roland Burris (#94, IL) and Ted Kaufman (#95, DE).

Excluding any potential unseating of incumbents that may occur at the ballot box in November, Klobuchar will move up to at least #72 in the Senate seniority rankings, with Franken moving up to at least #88.

When these 11 retirements take hold in January 2011, the collective years of service of the Minnesota Senate delegation will eclipse the delegations of Missouri, Ohio, and New Hampshire to move the Gopher State up from #49 nationwide to #46.

Minnesota's new faces on the Hill stand in stark contrast to several Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate delegations that currently rank among the Top 10 longest-serving in the nation: Iowa comes in at #3 (54.2 years collectively for Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin), with North Dakota at #7 (40.3 years for Dorgan and Kent Conrad), and Wisconsin at #9 (38.2 years for Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold).

Aside from the office perks associated with increased seniority within the Senate, the most tangible benefit Minnesota residents would receive from its delegation's rise in the seniority rankings is the increased power its Senators will have to choose committee assignments, as well the rise in rank in some of the committees on which Klobuchar and Franken already serve.

Klobuchar currently serves on the Judiciary Committee, Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Environment and Public Works Committee, and Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. She also serves on the Joint Economic Committee.

Franken serves with Klobuchar on the Judiciary Committee, plus the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, the Committee on Indian Affairs, and the Special Committee on Aging.

In addition to the nearly one dozen retirees exiting the Senate, the Democratic seats held by Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada are in particular jeopardy of flipping to the GOP this November.

In the Democratic caucus, Senators Lincoln (Chairwoman, Agriculture Committee) and Dorgan (Commerce) hold rank over Klobuchar in her major committee assignments, while Dodd (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions), Dorgan (Indian Affairs), Lincoln (Aging), and Bayh (Aging) do so over Franken in his committees.

Of course, if there are too many Democratic seats that end up switching to the Republican column in November, then any power gained through increased seniority by Klobuchar and Franken could be offset if the Democrats fall into minority party status in the chamber (should the GOP cobble together enough victories to reach 51 seats).

Years of U.S. Senate Service by State Delegation

Rank
State
Senior
Junior
Total
1
West Virginia
51.1
25.1
76.2
2
Hawaii
47.1
19.7
66.8
3
Iowa
29.1
25.1
54.2
4
Connecticut
29.1
21.1
50.2
4
Utah
33.1
17.1
50.2
6
Indiana
33.1
11.1
44.2
7
North Dakota
23.1
17.2
40.3
8
Michigan
31.1
9.1
40.2
9
Arizona
23.1
15.1
38.2
9
Vermont
35.1
3.1
38.2
9
Wisconsin
21.1
17.1
38.2
12
Alabama
23.1
13.1
36.2
12
Kentucky
25.1
11.1
36.2
14
California
17.3
17.1
34.4
15
Montana
31.2
3.1
34.3
16
Mississippi
31.2
2.2
33.4
17
Nevada
23.1
9.1
32.2
17
Pennsylvania
29.1
3.1
32.2
19
New Jersey
25.1*
4.1
29.2
20
Maine
15.1
13.1
28.2
20
New Mexico
27.1
1.1
28.2
22
Kansas
13.3
13.1
26.4
23
Maryland
23.1
3.1
26.2
23
Missouri
23.1
3.1
26.2
23
Washington
17.1
9.1
26.2
26
Massachusetts
25.1
0.1
25.2
27
Texas
16.6
7.1
23.7
28
Oklahoma
15.3
5.1
20.4
29
Arkansas
11.1
7.1
18.2
29
Louisiana
13.1
5.1
18.2
29
New Hampshire
17.1
1.1
18.2
29
South Dakota
13.1
5.1
18.2
33
Rhode Island
13.1
3.1
16.2
34
Wyoming
13.1
2.6
15.7
35
Oregon
13.9
1.1
15.0
36
Illinois
13.1
1.1
14.2
36
Ohio
11.1
3.1
14.2
38
Georgia
7.1
5.1
12.2
38
Idaho
11.1
1.1
12.2
38
New York
11.1
1.1
12.2
38
South Carolina
7.1
5.1
12.2
42
Delaware
9.1
1.1
10.2
42
Nebraska
9.1
1.1
10.2
42
Tennessee
7.1
3.1
10.2
45
Florida
9.1
1.0
10.1
46
Alaska
7.2
1.1
8.3
47
North Carolina
5.1
1.1
6.2
48
Virginia
3.1
1.1
4.2
49
Minnesota
3.1
0.6
3.7
50
Colorado
1.1
1.1
2.2
* Not all of New Jersey senior U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg's service has been consecutive. Lautenberg served 18+ years (from December 1982-January 2001) prior to his current run of 7+ years (January 2003-present).

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