Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


One and Done: Mike Johanns' Unusual Exit from the US Senate

Bookmark and Share

Johanns is the first U.S. Senator from the Cornhusker State who was popularly elected to a full term who chose not to seek reelection

mikejohanns10.jpgMike Johanns' surprise announcement on Monday that he was retiring from the U.S. Senate (and, it appears, political office generally) sets into motion another Republican primary battle in Nebraska, the winner of which will likely be the favorite to win the seat in November 2014.

Johanns' departure after just one full term in the chamber is particularly noteworthy because an early exit has never happened quite like this before in the state.

A Smart Politics review of Nebraska election history finds that Mike Johanns is the first popularly elected U.S. Senator from the state to retire from the legislative body after only one full term in office.

Since Nebraska's first direct election U.S. Senate contest in 1916, a total of 15 different men and women have been elected to a full term in the state.

(Another five individuals were appointed to Senate seats in Nebraska and three others only briefly held the office after winning a special election).

Other than Johanns and fellow Republican Deb Fischer - who is not up for reelection until 2018 - each of these Senators sought at least one more term, and all but two succeeded:

Democrat Gilbert Hitchcock, who won the state's first popular vote contest for the office in 1916, lost by more than 18 points to GOPer Ralph Howell in his reelection bid for a second term in 1922.

Eighteen years later, Democrat Edward Burke, who won his first term during the Democratic wave of 1934, lost his renomination bid in 1940 to Robert Cochran.

(Cochran went on to lose the general election to Republican Hugh Butler and the Democrats would not control the seat again until after the 1976 election).

The remaining 11 senators to win full terms from Nebraska during the direct election era all won reelection at least once:

· Republican turned independent George Norris won elections in 1918, 1924, 1930, and 1936 before losing his bid for a fifth term in 1942.

· Republican Ralph Howell won in 1922 and 1928 before dying in office.

· Republican Hugh Butler was elected in 1940, 1946, and 1952 before dying in office.

· Republican Kenneth Wherry won full terms in 1942 and 1948 before dying in office.

· Republican Carl Curtis won in 1954, 1960, 1966, and 1972 before retiring from the Senate.

· Republican Roman Hruska won a special election in 1954 and then full terms in 1958, 1964, and 1970 before retiring.

· Democrat Edward Zorinsky won in 1976 and 1982 before dying in office.

· Democrat J. James Exon was elected in 1978, 1984, and 1990 before retiring from the Senate.

· Democrat Bob Kerrey won in 1988 and 1994 before retiring from the chamber.

· Republican Chuck Hagel won full terms in 1996 and 2002 before retiring from the Senate.

· Democrat Ben Nelson won full terms in 2000 and 2006 before retiring this past year.

Of the three other individuals to win Senate seats from Nebraska via special elections, one died in office before coming up for election to a full term (Republican Dwight Griswold, 1952) and two were elected for less than two-months stints in November elections without simultaneously being candidates in contests held for the full term on that same day (Democrat Richard Hunter in 1934 and Republican Hazel Abel in 1954).

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: The Death of Presidents: Beware of June and July
Next post: Mounting US Senate Retirements: Tired of DC or Just Plain Tired?

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting