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Johnson to Retire with 2nd Longest Tenure on Capitol Hill in South Dakota History

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At 26+ years and counting, Senator Tim Johnson has already eclipsed Tom Daschle but will fall six years short of the Mount Rushmore State's all-time record set by Karl Mundt

timjohnson10.jpgSouth Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson made it official Tuesday - the three-term U.S. Senator will be retiring from his seat at the end of 2014.

Speculation that Johnson would retire had been percolating for months, and his retirement undoubtedly increases the chances of a GOP pick-up in the deep red state in November 2014.

Former Republican Governor Mike Rounds is already running for the seat, though it is unclear how many primary challengers he will face as well as who will emerge on the Democratic side in an attempt to hold the seat for the party.

Johnson cited age as one of the reasons for his retirement and, to be sure, he has spent a long time on Capitol Hill.

In fact, at the end of his third term in January 2015 when he is 68 years old, Johnson will have spent over 41 percent of his life serving in the nation's upper and lower legislative chambers.

A Smart Politics review of information provided in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress finds that - at 26.2 years and counting - Tim Johnson has already logged in the second longest stretch in Congress out of the 52 men and women to serve from South Dakota in the U.S. House and Senate since statehood.

Johnson first entered Congress after an 18.4-point open seat win in 1986 to South Dakota's at-large U.S. House seat after incumbent Tom Daschle opted to run for the Senate instead.

Johnson would win five terms in the House by an average of 32.5 points before upending three-term GOP incumbent U.S. Senator Larry Pressler by 2.6 points in 1996.

Johnson won reelection by a razor-thin 532-vote margin over John Thune in 2002 before cruising to a third term by 25.0 points during the Democratic wave of 2008.

All told, Johnson has served nearly 26 years and three months between the two chambers and, provided he finishes his term, will end up with 28 years of service by his retirement date in January 2015.

Even more impressive, Johnson owns more than 20 percent of the total time spent in Congress recorded by all South Dakota Democrats collectively (26.2 of 128.5 years, 20.4 percent).

The only South Dakota politician who has served longer in Congress in the history of the state is Republican Karl Mundt.

Mundt also served 10 years in the House plus four terms in the Senate from 1939 to 1973 for a total of 34 years on Capitol Hill.

After Mundt and Johnson, only five other South Dakotans have recorded 20 or more years of service in Congress:

· Democrat Tom Daschle: 26 years in the House (1979-1987) and Senate (1987-2005).

· Republican Francis Case: 25.5 years in the House (1937-1951) and Senate (1951-1962).

· Democrat George McGovern: 22 years in the House (1957-1961) and Senate (1963-1981).

· Republican Larry Pressler: 22 years in the House (1975-1979) and Senate (1979-1997).

· Republican Ellis Berry: 20 years in the House (1951-1971).

Rounding out the Top 10 are Republicans Royal Johnson (18 years in the House), Robert Gamble (16 years in the House and Senate), and Peter Norbeck (15.8 years in the Senate).

Republican John Thune, Johnson's fellow delegation member, is currently at #11 all-time at 14.2 years in the House (1997-2003) and Senate (2005-present) and counting.

At-large U.S. Representative Kristi Noem - who some are suggesting may challenge Mike Rounds for the GOP nomination in 2014 - ranks 37th.

Length of Service on Capitol Hill by South Dakota U.S. Representatives and Senators

Rank
Congressman
Party
House
Years
Senate
Years
Total
1
Karl Mundt
Republican
1939-1948
10.0
1948-1973
24.0
34.0
2
Tim Johnson*
Democrat
1987-1997
10.0
1997-present
16.2
26.2
3
Tom Daschle
Democrat
1979-1987
8.0
1987-2005
18.0
26.0
4
Francis Case
Republican
1937-1951
14.0
1951-1962
11.5
25.5
5
George McGovern
Democrat
1957-1961
4.0
1963-1981
18.0
22.0
5
Larry Pressler
Republican
1975-1979
4.0
1979-1997
18.0
22.0
7
Ellis Berry
Republican
1951-1971
20.0
 
 
20.0
8
Royal Johnson
Republican
1915-1933
18.0
 
 
18.0
9
Robert Gamble
Republican
1895-1897; 1899-1901
4.0
1901-1913
12.0
16.0
10
Peter Norbeck
Republican
 
 
1921-1936
15.8
15.8
11
John Thune*
Republican
1997-2003
6.0
2005-present
8.2
14.2
12
James Abdnor
Republican
1973-1981
8.0
1981-1987
6.0
14.0
12
Charles Burke
Republican
1899-1907; 1909-1915
14.0
 
 
14.0
12
Charles Christopherson
Republican
1919-1933
14.0
 
 
14.0
15
Eben Weaver
Republican
1901-1907; 1908-1915
12.3
 
 
12.3
16
William Bulow
Democrat
 
 
1931-1943
12.0
12.0
16
Chan Gurney
Republican
 
 
1939-1951
12.0
12.0
16
Sterling Thomas
Republican
 
 
1913-1925
12.0
12.0
16
William Williamson
Republican
1921-1933
12.0
 
 
12.0
20
Richard Pettigrew
Republican
 
 
1889-1901
11.3
11.3
21
James Kyle
Populist
 
 
1891-1901
10.3
10.3
22
Benjamin Reifel
Republican
1961-1971
10.0
 
 
10.0
23
James Abourezk
Democrat
1971-1973
2.0
1973-1979
6.0
8.0
23
Harold Lovre
Republican
1949-1957
8.0
 
 
8.0
25
Alfred Kittredge
Republican
 
 
1901-1909
7.6
7.6
26
John Pickler
Republican
1889-1897
7.3
 
 
7.3
27
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Democrat
2004-2011
6.6
 
 
6.6
28
Joe Crawford
Republican
 
 
1909-1915
6.0
6.0
28
Charles Dillon
Republican
1913-1919
6.0
 
 
6.0
28
Harry Gandy
Democrat
1915-1921
6.0
 
 
6.0
28
Fred Hildebrandt
Democrat
1933-1939
6.0
 
 
6.0
28
Edwin Johnson
Democrat
 
 
1915-1921
6.0
6.0
28
William McMaster
Republican
 
 
1925-1931
6.0
6.0
34
Harlan Bushfield
Republican
 
 
1943-1948
5.7
5.7
35
Frank Denholm
Democrat
1971-1975
4.0
 
 
4.0
36
Theodore Werner
Democrat
1933-1937
3.8
 
 
3.8
37
Kristi Noem*
Republican
2011-present
2.2
 
 
2.2
38
Philo Hall
Republican
1907-1909
2.0
 
 
2.0
38
John Kelley
Populist
1897-1899
2.0
 
 
2.0
38
Freeman Knowles
Populist
1897-1899
2.0
 
 
2.0
38
William Lucas
Republican
1893-1895
2.0
 
 
2.0
38
Clint Roberts
Republican
1981-1983
2.0
 
 
2.0
43
Herbert Hitchcock
Democrat
 
 
1936-1938
1.9
1.9
44
Oscar Gifford
Republican
1889-1891
1.3
 
 
1.3
44
Gideon Moody
Republican
 
 
1889-1891
1.3
1.3
46
William Parker
Republican
1907-1908
1.3
 
 
1.3
47
John Jolley
Republican
1891-1893
1.2
 
 
1.2
48
William Janklow
Republican
2003-2004
1.0
 
 
1.0
49
Joseph Bottum
Republican
 
 
1962-1963
0.5
0.5
50
John Gamble
Republican
1891
0.4
 
 
0.4
51
Vera Bushfield
Republican
 
 
1948
0.2
0.2
52
Gladys Pyle
Republican
 
 
1938-1939
0.2
0.2
* Still in office. Notes: William Parker served 480 days, six days less than Oscar Gifford and Gideon Moody. Vera Bushfield served 82 days with Gladys Pyle serving just 56. Data compiled by Smart Politics from information provided in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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