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.
Big-name Republicans are not coming out of the woodwork yet to challenge Al Franken in Minnesota's 2014 U.S. Senate race, and there is not much chatter of the GOP picking off one of the five DFL-held U.S. House seats either. Over the last century, Minnesota Republican U.S. House candidates have not fared all that well in cycles ending in '4' - losing seats in five of these cycles (1914, 1924, 1944, 1954, 1974), holding serve in four others (1964, 1984, 1994, 2004), and gaining seats just one time (1934, after redistricting had been delayed one cycle with all nine seats voted at-large in 1932). Perhaps the Republican Party's best chance for a pick up in the Gopher State in 2014 is if 12-term Democrat Collin Peterson retires after nearly a quarter century on Capitol Hill. The 7th CD has the second largest GOP lean in the state.
Of the 15 men and women that have served in the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin since popular vote elections were introduced a century ago, Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin rank among the oldest upon first entering the chamber. Johnson began his tenure at the age of 55 years, 8 months, and 26 days in January 2011, which is the oldest of any elected Wisconsin Senator during this popular vote era. The next oldest, Alexander Wiley, was more than one year younger when he took his seat in 1939 (54 years, 7 months, 8 days). Tammy Baldwin comes in at #6 being 50 years, 10 months, and 23 days when she took office in January of this year. The youngest elected Senator from the Badger State was Robert La Follette, Jr. at 30 years, 7 months, and 24 days (1925) when he took the seat of his legendary deceased father.
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