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Michael Steele Era on Par with Historical Tenure of RNC Chairmen

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Over 75 percent of RNC Chairmen throughout history have served less than two full terms; 61 percent have served two years or less

The election of Reince Priebus as the next Republican National Committee (RNC) Friday afternoon ended Michael Steele's quest to continue at his post for another two years.

Steele's defeat ends his Chairmanship at two years, which is on par with the average tenure for RNC Chairmen throughout history.

A Smart Politics review of past Republican National Committee chairmen finds that 77 percent (49 of 64) served less than four years, with only 15 former chairmen serving two or more full terms (23 percent).

Steele continues a recent trend for RNC chairmen, as none of his five predecessors served more than two years: Jim Gilmore (2001-2002), Marc Racicot (2002-2003), Ed Gillespie (2003-2005), Ken Mehlman (2005-2007), and Mike Duncan (2007-2009).

With Steele's defeat, 61 percent of former RNC chairmen have notched tenures of two years or less (39 of 64), including 10 of the last 13 dating back to 1981.

Thirty percent of chairmen throughout history served less than two years (19 of 64).

Overall, the average tenure of RNC chairs has been approximately two years and five months.

The longest serving chairmen in Committee history were future U.S. Senator from New York Edwin Morgan (the Party's first chairman), who held the office for eight years from 1856-1864 and Ohio Senator Marcus Hanna, who chaired the committee from 1896 to 1904.

Length of Service of Republican National Committee Chairmen, 1856-2011

Years
#
Percent
<1
4
6.3
1
15
23.4
2
20
31.3
3
10
15.6
4
12
18.8
6
1
1.6
8
2
3.1
Total
64
2.4
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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Remains of the Data

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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 lieutenant 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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