Rick Nolan's plurality victory in the Minnesota's 8th CD DFL U.S. House primary on Tuesday brings him one step closer to a return to Congress after a 32-year absence. If he wins his general election matchup against one-term incumbent GOP Chip Cravaack, his return would come after a gap in service from the U.S. House that is more than twice the longest gap in state history - a mark currently held by Republican-turned-Farmer-Laborite Ernest Lundeen. Lundeen won his first term in the House in 1916 but failed to get his party's nomination two years later. In 1932, after a 14-year absence in U.S. House service, Lundeen won one of the nine at-large congressional seats created when the Gopher State could not agree on a redistricting plan in time for the November election.
Barack Obama has delivered an address before a joint session of Congress eight times since taking office five years ago. During his first three speeches (February 2009's inaugural address to Congress, September 2009's address on health care reform, and the 2010 State of the Union), the president's tie color of choice was red. After the GOP tsunami in November 2010, Obama has opted for a blue tie in four of his five speeches held in the Republican-controlled lower legislative chamber (for the 2011, 2013, and 2014 SOTUs and his September 2011 address on job growth). The president reverted back to his red tie only once, for the 2012 SOTU.
Tom Latham's surprise announcement last month that he would retire from the U.S. House at this end of this term was also an unusual exit in modern Hawkeye State history. Over the last 50+ years since the 1962 cycle, only six of 32 Iowa U.S. Representatives - including Latham - left the chamber via retirement, or 18 percent: Democrats Merwin Coad in 1962 and Berkley Bedell in 1986 and Republicans Charles Hoeven in 1964, Harold Gross in 1974, Cooper Evans in 1986, and Latham in 2014. Seventeen others were defeated in reelection bids, while nine ran for higher office. Five of these were defeated (Republicans Tom Tauke in 1990, Fred Grandy in 1994, Jim Lightfoot in 1996, Greg Ganske in 2002, Jim Nussle in 2006), three were victorious (John Culver in 1974, Chuck Grassley in 1980, Tom Harkin in 1984), with one yet to be determined (1st CD Democrat Bruce Braley, running for U.S. Senate this cycle).
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