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The Longest-Held Republican US Senate Seats

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Kansas, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming claim seven of the Top 10 spots on the list

patroberts10.jpgWhile Republicans have an opportunity to pick up the second longest held Democratic U.S. Senate seat in 2014 with the retirement of Montana's Max Baucus, the prospects of the GOP losing any of their gold-rated seats this cycle remains extremely slim.

Five of the Top 10 longest currently held GOP seats will be on the ballot in November 2014 - in Kansas, Idaho, Texas, Wyoming, and South Carolina - and have collectively been in the Republican column for 306 consecutive years.

Three states (Kansas, Utah, Wyoming) can each claim two Senate seats on this Top 10 list, with Kansas landing the top two spots.

A Smart Politics analysis finds that Republicans have held Kansas' two Senate seats for a longer stretch than any of the 45 seats the party controls in the 113th Congress, with its Class II seat remaining in the GOP column for 94 years, 1 month, and 25 days and its Class III seat coming in at 74 years, 3 months, and 26 days.

Pat Roberts, who will seek a fourth term from the Sunflower State in 2014, is one of five Republican Senators who have held Kansas' Class II seat across the last 94+ years dating back to March 1919.

In the Election of 1918, Kansas Governor Arthur Capper defeated one-term Democratic Senator William Thompson and reclaimed the seat for the GOP on March 4, 1919.

(Thompson and John Martin, who served in the 1890s, are the only two Democrats to hold this Kansas seat - for a combined eight years across the 152 years since statehood in 1861).

Capper served five terms in the nation's upper legislative chamber until January 1949 and was followed by Andrew Schoeppel (1949-1962), James Pearson (1962-1978), Nancy Kassebaum (1978-1997), and Roberts (1997-present).

Kansas also holds the #2 spot on the Republican list with its Class III seat held by seven Republicans over nearly 75 years dating back to January 1939: Clyde Reed (1939-1949), Harry Darby (1949-1950), Frank Carlson (1950-1969), Bob Dole (1969-1996), Sheila Frahm (1996-1996), Sam Brownback (1996-2011), and Jerry Moran (2011-present).

Kansas has two of the six seats in the U.S. Senate that have been under GOP control since prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in July 1964, along with seats in Idaho, Utah, Texas, and Wyoming.

Idaho's Class II seat, currently occupied by Jim Risch, has been held by Republicans ever since Henry Dworshak began his second stint in the chamber in October 1949.

Dworshak had won a special election in 1946 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator John Thomas, but then lost the 1948 general election by approximately 3,100 votes to Democrat Bert Miller.

However, Miller, a former State Attorney General and State Supreme Court justice, died after just nine months in office and Dworshak was appointed back to the seat on October 14, 1949.

Dworshak was elected in 1950, 1954, and 1960 to help build a streak that has lasted 63 years, 6 months, and 15 days and counting in the Gem State with Len Jordan (1962-1973), James McClure (1973-1991), Larry Craig (1991-2009), and Risch (2009-present) succeeding him in the chamber.

Utah won't have a Senate race on the ballot in 2014, but, like Kansas, the state also holds two spots on the Top 10 list of the longest-held Republican seats.

The Beehive State's Class III seat, currently held by Mike Lee, ranks #4, with the GOP in control of the seat since January 1951, or 62 years, 3 months, and 26 days.

In the Election of 1950, three-term Democrat Elbert Thomas, one of only two Democrats to hold the seat in state history, was defeated by Wallace Bennett who went on to serve in the chamber until December 1974.

Jake Garn (1974-1993), Wallace's son Robert Bennett (1993-2011), and Lee (2011-present) have kept the seat in the Republican column over the subsequent decades.

Utah's other Senate seat is tied for #10 on the GOP list with Orrin Hatch holding it for the Republicans since January 1977.

Also on the ballot in 2014 will be seats held by Republicans for 50+ years in Texas (June 1961, John Cornyn), Wyoming (November 1962, Mike Enzi), and South Carolina (September 1964, Lindsey Graham).

Enzi's Class II seat in Wyoming ranks #6 on the GOP list at 50 years with John Barrasso's Class III seat tied at #10 (January 1977).

It should be noted that the one seat Republicans are perhaps most fearful of losing in 2014 is the seat they have held for the shortest period of the 14 on the ballot.

Retiring Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss' Class II seat has been in the GOP column since January 2003.

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

Rank
State
Class
Currently held by
Since
1
Kansas
2
Pat Roberts
March 1919
2
Kansas
3
Jerry Moran
January 1939
3
Idaho
2
Jim Risch
October 1949
4
Utah
3
Mike Lee
January 1951
5
Texas
2
John Cornyn
June 1961
6
Wyoming
2
Mike Enzi
November 1962
7
South Carolina
2
Lindsey Graham
September 1964
8
Arizona
3
John McCain
January 1969
8
Oklahoma
3
Tom Coburn
January 1969
10
Utah
1
Orrin Hatch
January 1977
10
Wyoming
1
John Barrasso
January 1977
12
Mississippi
2
Thad Cochran
December 1978
13
Maine
2
Susan Collins
January 1979
14
New Hampshire
3
Kelly Ayotte
December 1980
15
Alaska
3
Lisa Murkowski
January 1981
15
Idaho
3
Mike Crapo
January 1981
15
Iowa
3
Chuck Grassley
January 1981
18
Kentucky
2
Mitch McConnell
January 1985
19
Missouri
3
Roy Blunt
January 1987
20
Mississippi
1
Roger Wicker
January 1989
21
Texas
1
Ted Cruz
June 1993
22
Alabama
3
Richard Shelby
November 1994
23
Oklahoma
2
James Inhofe
November 1994
24
Tennessee
2
Lamar Alexander
December 1994
25
Arizona
1
Jeff Flake
January 1995
25
Tennessee
1
Bob Corker
January 1995
27
Alabama
2
Jeff Sessions
January 1997
27
Nebraska
2
Mike Johanns
January 1997
29
Kentucky
3
Rand Paul
January 1999
29
Ohio
3
Rob Portman
January 1999
31
Georgia
2
Saxby Chambliss
January 2003
32
Florida
3
Marco Rubio
January 2005
32
Georgia
3
Johnny Isakson
January 2005
32
Louisiana
3
David Vitter
January 2005
32
North Carolina
3
Richard Burr
January 2005
32
South Carolina
3
Tim Scott
January 2005
32
South Dakota
3
John Thune
January 2005
38
Illinois
3
Mark Kirk
November 2010
39
Arkansas
3
John Boozman
January 2011
39
Indiana
3
Dan Coats
January 2011
39
Nevada
1
Dean Heller
January 2011
39
North Dakota
3
John Hoeven
January 2011
39
Pennsylvania
3
Pat Toomey
January 2011
39
Wisconsin
3
Ron Johnson
January 2011
45
Nebraska
1
Deb Fischer
January 2013
Note: Excludes vacancies. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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