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Baucus Retirement Opens Up 2nd Longest Democratic-Held Senate Seat

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It has been 36,577 days (March 3, 1913) since the last time a Republican sat in Montana's Class II U.S. Senate seat, behind only Louisiana's Class II seat (47,534 days, March 3, 1883)

maxbaucus10.jpgThe announcement by Max Baucus on Tuesday that he would not seek a seventh term in the U.S. Senate adds another name to an ever-growing list of seasoned Democratic members of the nation's upper legislative chamber who won't be back in 2015.

The retirement of the senior Senator from Montana makes an even half-dozen members from the Democratic side of the aisle who will be stepping down at the end of their term in less than two years - each with at least 18 years in the chamber under their belt at that time.

Although Baucus' popularity with his constituents may have been waning a bit in recent years, his departure opens up a seat that has been particularly elusive for the Republican Party over the decades.

In fact, it is one of just two seats the GOP hasn't claimed in more than a century.

A Smart Politics analysis finds that Democrats have held Montana's Class II Senate seat for a longer stretch than all but one seat of the 53 it holds in the 113th Congress at 100 years, 1 month, and 21 days through Tuesday, or 36,577 days.

Baucus is one of six elected and appointed Montana Democrats to hold the seat since the introduction of direct elections a century ago, along with Thomas Walsh, John Erickson, James Murray, Lee Metcalf, and Paul Hatfield.

(Note: The seat was vacant for just over a week after the deaths of Walsh in 1933 and Metcalf in 1978 before the appointments of Erickson and Hatfield respectively).

The last Republican to hold Montana's Class II seat was Joseph Dixon, who went on to become governor of the Treasure State later in his political career.

Dixon served from 1907 until the end of the 62nd Congress in March 1913 when Walsh won the seat for the Democrats - and the Party has not relinquished it ever since.

The only other Senate seat that Democrats have held for a longer stretch is Louisiana's Class II seat currently occupied by Mary Landrieu (who is also up for reelection in 2014).

The last Republican to hold that seat was William Kellogg at the end of the 47th Congress in March 1883, or 130 years, 1 month, and 21 days ago (47,534 days).

Overall, four of the five longest held Democratic seats will be on the ballot in 2014:

· #1: Louisiana, Class II, Mary Landrieu (March 1883)
· #2: Montana, Class II, Max Baucus (March 1913)
· #3: Rhode Island, Class II, Jack Reed (January 1937)
· #5: West Virginia, Class II, John Rockefeller (November 1958)

More than one-third of the Democrat's 53 U.S. Senate seats (18) have been under the party's control (when not vacant) since the 1970s.

Length of Democratic Control of Current U.S. Senate Seats

Rank
State
Class
Currently held by
Since
1
Louisiana
2
Mary Landrieu
March 1883
2
Montana
2
Max Baucus
March 1913
3
Rhode Island
2
Jack Reed
January 1937
4
Wisconsin
1
Tammy Baldwin
August 1957
5
West Virginia
2
John Rockefeller
November 1958
6
West Virginia
1
Joe Manchin
January 1959
7
Hawaii
3
Brian Schatz
August 1959
8
North Dakota
1
Heidi Heitkamp
August 1960
9
Connecticut
3
Richard Blumenthal
January 1963
10
California
3
Barbara Boxer
January 1969
11
Delaware
2
Chris Coons
January 1973
12
Vermont
3
Patrick Leahy
January 1975
13
Hawaii
1
Mazie Hirono
January 1977
13
Maryland
1
Ben Cardin
January 1977
13
New York
1
Kirsten Gillibrand
January 1977
16
Massachusetts
2
Mo Cowan
January 1979
16
Michigan
2
Carl Levin
January 1979
16
New Jersey
2
Frank Lautenberg
January 1979
19
New Jersey
1
Robert Menendez
December 1982
20
New Mexico
1
Martin Heinrich
January 1983
21
Illinois
2
Dick Durbin
January 1985
21
Iowa
2
Tom Harkin
January 1985
23
Maryland
3
Barbara Mikulski
January 1987
23
Nevada
3
Harry Reid
January 1987
23
Washington
3
Patty Murray
January 1987
26
California
1
Dianne Feinstein
November 1992
27
Oregon
3
Ron Wyden
February 1996
28
South Dakota
2
Tim Johnson
January 1997
29
New York
3
Chuck Schumer
January 1999
30
Delaware
1
Tom Carper
January 2001
30
Florida
1
Bill Nelson
January 2001
30
Michigan
1
Debbie Stabenow
January 2001
30
Minnesota
1
Amy Klobuchar
January 2001
30
Washington
1
Maria Cantwell
January 2001
35
Arkansas
2
Mark Pryor
January 2003
36
Colorado
3
Michael Bennet
January 2005
37
Missouri
1
Claire McCaskill
January 2007
37
Montana
1
Jon Tester
January 2007
37
Ohio
1
Sherrod Brown
January 2007
37
Pennsylvania
1
Bob Casey
January 2007
37
Rhode Island
1
Sheldon Whitehouse
January 2007
37
Virginia
1
Tim Kaine
January 2007
43
Alaska
2
Mark Begich
January 2009
43
Colorado
2
Mark Udall
January 2009
43
New Hampshire
2
Jeanne Shaheen
January 2009
43
New Mexico
2
Tom Udall
January 2009
43
North Carolina
2
Kay Hagen
January 2009
43
Oregon
2
Jeff Merkeley
January 2009
43
Virginia
2
Mark Warner
January 2009
50
Minnesota
2
Al Franken
July 2009
51
Connecticut
1
Chris Murphy
January 2013
51
Indiana
1
Joe Donnelly
January 2013
51
Massachusetts
1
Elizabeth Warren
January 2013
Note: Excludes vacancies. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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