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It's All Relative: Florida US Representatives Edition

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11 percent of Florida's U.S. Representatives in history had family members who previously served in Congress

billyoung10.jpgThe jockeying for position is in full swing to replace former U.S. Representative Bill Young's 13th Congressional District seat in Florida less than a week after his death.

Reports are circulating that Young's younger brother Tom is considering a campaign for the seat, which will have a special election in early 2014, as well as the deceased representative's son Bill Young II and wife Beverly.

It is not uncommon for relations to seek and win seats previously held by deceased members of Congress, particularly in special elections.

In fact, many of the first female U.S. Representatives in history won elections in such scenarios.

But just how common is it for Floridians to elect members to the House who have relations who previously served in Congress?

A Smart Politics review of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress finds that 13 of the state's 132 U.S. Representatives since statehood had family members who had previously served in the House or Senate, or 11 percent.

The current 27-member Florida U.S. House delegation has three members with kin who previously served in Congress (down from five during the 111th Congress just a few years ago):

· Eleven-term Republican John Mica (1993-present) from Florida's 7th CD is the older brother of former five-term U.S. Representative Daniel Mica, who served the 11th and then 14th districts as a Democrat in the state from 1979 to 1989.

· Six-term Republican Mario Diaz-Balart (2003-present) from the 25th CD is the younger brother of former nine-term GOP House member Lincoln Diaz-Balart (1993-2011).

· Four-term Republican Gus Bilirakis (2007-present) from the 12th CD is the son of former 12-term Republican U.S. Representative Michael Bilirakis (1983-2007), and took over his retiring father's 9th CD seat in the 2006 cycle.

Two other Floridians also recently left the U.S. House who had relatives who previously served in Congress:

· Four-term Republican Connie Mack IV (2005-2013) famously comes from political royalty with several ancestors serving in Congress including his father Connie Mack III (U.S. House, 1983-1989; U.S. Senate, 1989-2001), his great grandfather Morris Sheppard of Texas (U.S. House, 1902-1913; U.S. Senate, 1913-1941), his great-great grandfather John Sheppard of Texas (U.S. House, 1899-1902), and his step-great grandfather Tom Connally of Texas (U.S. House, 1917-1929; U.S. Senate, 1929-1953). Connie Mack IV also married Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California while serving in the chamber.

· Four-term Democrat Kendrick Meek (2003-2011) is the son of former five-term U.S. Representative Carrie Meek (1993-2003), whose seat Kendrick took over after his mother's retirement in the 2002 cycle.

In addition to the Young clan, another Florida 2014 U.S. House race will likely feature a candidate with direct familial ties to Congress.

Democrat Gwen Graham, daughter of former Florida U.S. Senator (and governor) Bob Graham, is poised to challenge Republican Steve Southerland in the state's competitive 2nd CD next November.

In addition to Connie Mack III mentioned above, the remaining seven Florida U.S. House members with relatives who previously served in Congress are:

· Twelve-term Democratic U.S. Representative Paul Rogers (1955-1979), son of five-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Dwight Rogers (1945-1954).

· Two-term Democratic U.S. House member (1947-1951) and three-term U.S. Senator (1951-1969) George Smathers, nephew of one-term Democratic New Jersey Senator William Smathers (1937-1943).

· Two-term Democratic U.S. Representative Ruth Bryan Owen (1929-1933), daughter of two-term Nebraska U.S. Representative (and three-time Democatic presidential nominee) William Jennings Bryan (1891-1895).

· Two-term Democratic U.S. House member Emmett Wilson (1913-1917), grandson of two-term Democratic U.S. Representative Augustus Maxwell (1853-1857).

· Three-term Democratic U.S. Representative William Lamar (1903-1909), nephew of four-term Mississippi Democratic U.S. Representative (1857-1860; 1873-1877) and U.S. Senator (1877-1885) Lucius Lamar.

· Two-term Democratic U.S. Representative (1891-1895) and two-term U.S. Senator (1897-1907) Stephen Mallory, son of two-term Democratic U.S. Senator Stephen Russell Mallory (1851-1861).

· One-term Democratic U.S. House member Silas Niblack, cousin of seven-term Indiana Democratic U.S. Representative William Niblack (1857-1861; 1865-1875).

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1 Comment


  • Mr Rogers served of course from 1955 to 1979.

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