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Which States Have the Longest-Serving US Senate Delegations?

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Hawaii and Iowa lead the pack with battleground states littering the Bottom 10; Daniel Inouye's 48+ years of service is equal to 33 other Senators combined

With well more than a dozen retirements and defeated incumbents ending their service in early January, the U.S. Senate is looking rather green these days.

The new 112th Congress now finds more than 40 percent of its members in the upper legislative chamber have not yet served one full term.

The 2012 election is still more than a year and a half away, but five members in their third full term or greater have already announced their retirement (Democrats Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Kent Conrad of North Dakota; Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; Republicans Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas) along with first term Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia.

That means it is quite likely the 113th Congress that convenes in 2013 will find an even greater percentage of Senators who have yet to complete a full term than in the 112th - should at least five more senators announce their retirement or get defeated in their reelection bids.

Despite the member upheaval that the Senate has experienced over the past few election cycles, there are certainly still several state delegations with a wealth of experience in the nation's upper legislative chamber.

Senators from Hawaii (68.2 years) and Iowa (56.2 years) are far and away the most seasoned in the 100-member body.

Hawaii's Daniel Inouye, the chamber's longest-serving member after the death last year of West Virginia's Robert Byrd, has notched a longer tenure in the Senate (48.1 years) than the combined service from both delegation members of every single state in the nation with the exception of Iowa.

In fact, Inouye's length of service is equal to the combined service of 33 individual members of the Senate: the delegations from Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, plus the junior senators from Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Rounding out the Top 10 for the state delegations with the most years of service in the Senate are Indiana at #3 (44.2 years), Michigan at #4 (42.2 years), Arizona and Vermont at #5 (40.2 years), Alabama at #7 (38.2 years), California at #8 (36.4 years), Montana at #9 (36.3 years), and Mississippi at #10 (35.3 years).

Indiana maintained its Top 10 ranking on the list from a year ago despite the retirement of two-term Democrat Evan Bayh thanks to the return of Republican Dan Coats, who won back his old seat that he previously held for 10 years from 1989-1998.

(Note: Coat's experience does not carry over for seniority purposes, except as a tie-breaker among his current class, so Indiana ranks only 18th in average seniority ranking among the 50 states).

Five states fell out of the Top 10 from a year ago due to retirements, death, or unsuccessful incumbent reelection bids: West Virginia (from #1 to #19), Utah (#4 to #11), Connecticut (#4 to #24), North Dakota (#7 to #22), and Wisconsin (#9 to #24).

It should come as little surprise that almost all of the Bottom 10 states on this list are among the premier battleground states in the nation.

The state delegations with the shortest cumulative service are New Hampshire (#50, 2.2 years collectively), Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (#46, 4.2 years), Minnesota (#45, 5.7 years), Virginia (#44, 6.2 years), North Carolina and Arkansas (#42, 8.2 years) and Florida (#41, 10.2 years).

Retirements have caused some of these seats to open up over the past year, such as Judd Gregg in New Hampshire, George Voinovich in Ohio, and Kit Bond in Missouri.

However, 14 of the 20 seats across these Bottom 10 states saw a flip in partisan control when won by the current sitting member: both seats in North Carolina (2004, 2008), Virginia (2006, 2008), Pennsylvania (2006, 2010), and Arkansas (2000, 2010), and seats in Minnesota (2008), Colorado (2008), Missouri (2006), Ohio (2006), New Hampshire (2008), and Florida (2000).

Length of Service in the U.S. Senate by State Delegation

2011 Rank
2010 Rank
State
Senior
Junior
Total
1
2
Hawaii
48.1
20.8
68.9
2
3
Iowa
30.1
26.1
56.2
3
6
Indiana
34.1
10.1
44.2
4
8
Michigan
32.1
10.1
42.2
5
9
Arizona
24.1
16.1
40.2
5
9
Vermont
36.1
4.1
40.2
7
12
Alabama
24.1
14.1
38.2
8
14
California
18.3
18.1
36.4
9
15
Montana
32.2
4.1
36.3
10
16
Mississippi
32.2
3.1
35.3
11
17
Nevada
24.1
10.1
34.2
11
4
Utah
34.1
0.1
34.2
13
19
New Jersey
26.1
5.1
31.2
14
20
Maine
16.1
14.1
30.2
14
20
New Mexico
28.1
2.1
30.2
16
23
Maryland
24.1
4.1
28.2
16
23
Washington
18.1
10.1
28.2
18
26
Massachusetts
26.1
1.0
27.1
19
1
West Virginia
26.1
0.2
26.3
20
12
Kentucky
26.1
0.1
26.2
21
27
Texas
17.7
8.1
25.8
22
7
North Dakota
24.1
0.1
24.2
23
28
Oklahoma
16.3
6.1
22.4
24
4
Connecticut
22.1
0.1
22.2
24
9
Wisconsin
22.1
0.1
22.2
26
29
Louisiana
14.1
6.1
20.2
26
29
South Dakota
14.1
6.1
20.2
28
33
Rhode Island
14.1
4.1
18.2
29
34
Wyoming
14.1
3.7
17.8
30
35
Oregon
15.0
2.1
17.1
31
36
Illinois
14.1
0.2
14.3
32
38
Georgia
8.1
6.1
14.2
32
38
Idaho
12.1
2.1
14.2
32
22
Kansas
14.1
0.1
14.2
32
38
New York
12.1
2.1
14.2
32
38
South Carolina
8.1
6.1
14.2
37
42
Nebraska
10.1
2.1
12.2
38
42
Tennessee
8.1
4.1
12.2
39
42
Delaware
10.1
0.3
10.4
40
46
Alaska
8.2
2.1
10.3
41
45
Florida
10.1
0.1
10.2
42
29
Arkansas
8.1
0.1
8.2
42
47
North Carolina
6.1
2.1
8.2
44
48
Virginia
4.1
2.1
6.2
45
46
Minnesota
4.1
1.6
5.7
46
49
Colorado
2.1
2.1
4.2
46
47
Missouri
4.1
0.1
4.2
46
47
Ohio
4.1
0.1
4.2
46
17
Pennsylvania
4.1
0.1
4.2
50
50
New Hampshire
2.1
0.1
2.2
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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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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