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Wisconsin Veterans in Midst of Record US House Delegation Drought

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It has been more than 10 years since a veteran was elected to serve in the U.S. House from the Badger State - the longest period in state history

wisconsinseal10.pngA recent Smart Politics report demonstrated that while the national rate of veterans elected to the U.S. House has declined substantially in recent years, Minnesota is currently electing veterans at a rate about twice the national average of 20 percent.

Neighboring Wisconsin, however, is trending far south of the national average.

Wisconsinites have not elected a veteran to the U.S. House since 2002 - a period of 11 years and five election cycles that marks the longest such drought in the history of the state.

It is also a significant departure from the military record of U.S. Representatives sent to the chamber from Wisconsin during recent decades.

From 1952 through the election of 1992, at least 30 percent of the members elected to the U.S. House from Wisconsin were veterans, with an all-time statewide peak of 77.8 percent (seven of nine seats) after the Election of 1976 when Democrats Les Apsin, Alvin Baldus, Robert Kastenmeier, Henry Reuss, and Clement Zablocki won seats in the chamber alongside Republicans Robert Kasten and William Steiger.

That number has gradually dipped ever since: falling to 66.7 percent in 1978 (six of nine seats held by veterans), 55.6 percent in 1980 (five of nine), 44.4 percent from 1982 through 1988 (four of nine), 33.3 percent in 1990 and 1992 (three of nine), 22.2 percent in 1994 and 1996 (two of nine), and 11.1 percent in 1998 and 2000.

The last veteran elected to the chamber from the Badger State was Democrat Gerald Kleczka when he won his 11th and final term in 2002.

Kleczka served in the Wisconsin Air National Guard from 1963 to 1969.

None of the subsequent 40 seats on the ballot in Wisconsin since the Election of 2004 have been won by veterans.

Prior to this 10-year period, Wisconsin had been represented by at least one veteran in the nation's lower legislative chamber for 40,236 consecutive days - or 110, years, 1 month, and 29 days - dating back to November 5, 1894.

On that date, Republican Michael Griffin, a Civil War veteran, won a special election at the tail end of the 53rd Congress.

For the next 55 Congresses and 111+ years through January 3, 2005, Wisconsin was represented by at least one veteran in its U.S. House delegation.

Overall, 44 of the 180 individuals elected to the U.S. House from Wisconsin since statehood were veterans, or 24 percent.

By comparison, veterans have accounted for 48 of the 134 U.S. Representatives to serve from neighboring Minnesota, or 36 percent, including at least 38 percent since the 2002 cycle.

Who served?

In Wisconsin, two U.S. Representatives served in the Mexican War: Republican Amasa Cobb (1863-1871) and Democrat Lucas Miller (1891-1893).

Cobb was also a colonel in the Wisconsin Infantry during the Civil War.

Republican David Atwood (1870-1871) served in the Wisconsin militia prior to the Civil War in the late 1850s.

Sixteen additional future U.S. Representatives from Wisconsin served in the Civil War.

Three served in the Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry: Republicans Cadwallader Washburn (1855-1861; 1867-1871), Samuel Cook (1895-1897), and Edward Minor (1895-1907). Note: Cook served in the Second Wisconsin Calvary under General George Custer.

Twelve others served in the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry: Republican Halbert Paine (1865-1871), Republican Jeremiah Rusk (1871-1877), Democrat Gabriel Bouck (1877-1881), Democrat Edward Bragg (1877-1883), Democrat Gilbert Woodward (1883-1885), Democrat Joseph Rankin (1883-1886), Republican Ormsby Thomas (1885-1891), Republican Charles Clark (1887-1891), Democrat Allen Bushnell (1891-1893), Democrat John Mitchell (1891-1893), Republican Michael Griffin (1894-1899), and Republican John Jenkins (1895-1909).

One other Civil War veteran, Republican Samuel Burchard (1875-1877), served in the Missouri Militia.

One additional Wisconsin U.S. Representative, Democrat Charles Larrabee (1859-1861), served in the Union Army after his term ended in D.C. in 1861.

A few veterans were elected to the U.S. House from Wisconsin who had military service between the Civil War and World War I: Republican John Esch (1899-1921) served for two years in the 1890s as a commissioned acting judge advocate general with the rank of colonel while Democrat James Frear (1913-1935) served in the U.S. Army's Signal Service from 1879 to 1884 and then 11 years with the Wisconsin National Guard.

Six future U.S. Representatives served in the armed forces during and around World War I:

· Republican Hubert Peavey (1923-1935), Wisconsin National Guard, 1917-1919
· Republican John Schafer (1923-1933; 1939-1941), U.S. Army, 1917
· Progressive Gerald Boileau (1931-1939), U.S. Army, 1918-1919
· Republican Charles Hawkes (1939-1941), U.S. Navy, 1917-1919
· Republican Lawrence Smith (1941-1958), U.S. Army, 1917-1919
· Republican John Brophy (1947-1949), U.S. Navy, 1919-1921

After World War I, Republican John Kleczka (1919-1923) served in the U.S. Army Reserve and Joshua Johns (1939-1943) served in the Wisconsin National Guard from 1928 to 1929.

From the late 1940s until the late 1980s, Wisconsinites also elected eight veterans who served during World War II:

· Republican Glenn Davis (1947-1957; 1965-1974), U.S. Navy, 1942-1945
· Republican Melvin Laird (1953-1969), U.S. Navy, 1942-1946
· Democrat Henry Reuss (1955-1983), U.S. Army, 1943-1945
· Republican Donald Tewes (1957-1959), U.S. Air Force, 1942-1946
· Democrat Robert Kastenmeier (1959-1991), U.S. Army, 1943-1946
· Republican Henry Schadeberg (1961-1965; 1967-1971), U.S. Navy, 1943-1946
· Democrat Lynn Stalbaum (1965-1967), U.S. Navy, 1944, 1946
· Democrat Alvin Baldus (1975-1981), U.S. Merchant Marine, 1944-1946

Laird would be awarded the Purple Heart and later serve as Secretary of Defense under President Richard Nixon.

Schadeberg, a chaplain, also served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict from 1952 to 1953 and thereafter in the U.S. Naval Reserve until 1969.

From 1951 to 1953, Representative Baldus served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict and received the bronze star.

Seven other Wisconsin U.S. Representatives served in the armed forces during the 1950s and 1960s:

· Democrat Clement Zablocki (1949-1983), United States Air Force Reserve, 1956-1965
· Democrat Les Aspin (1971-1993), U.S. Army, 1966-1968
· Republican Harold Froehlich (1973-1975), U.S. Navy, 1951-1955
· Republican Robert Kasten (1975-1979), Wisconsin Air National Guard, 1966-1972
· Republican Toby Roth (1977-1997), U.S. Army Reserve, 1962-1969
· Democrat Gerald Kleczka (1984-2005), Wisconsin Air National Guard, 1963-1969
· Democrat Jay Johnson (1997-1999), U.S. Army, 1966-1968

Aspin would later serve as Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton.

Veterans Elected to the U.S. House from Wisconsin by Cycle

Cycle
U.S. Representatives
#
Seats
%
2012
(none)
0
8
0.0
2010
(none)
0
8
0.0
2008
(none)
0
8
0.0
2006
(none)
0
8
0.0
2004
(none)
0
8
0.0
2002
G. Kleczka
1
8
12.5
2000
G. Kleczka
1
9
11.1
1998
G. Kleczka
1
9
11.1
1996
G. Kleczka, J. Johnson
2
9
22.2
1994
Roth, G. Kleczka
2
9
22.2
1992
Aspin, Roth, G. Kleczka
3
9
33.3
1990
Aspin, Roth, G. Kleczka
3
9
33.3
1988
Kastenmeier, Aspin, Roth, G. Kleczka
4
9
44.4
1986
Kastenmeier, Aspin, Roth, G. Kleczka
4
9
44.4
1984
Kastenmeier, Aspin, Roth, G. Kleczka
4
9
44.4
1982
Zablocki, Kastenmeier, Aspin, Roth, G. Kleczka*
4
9
44.4
1980
Zablocki, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Aspin, Roth
5
9
55.6
1978
Zablocki, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Aspin, Baldus, Roth
6
9
66.7
1976
Zablocki, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Aspin, Baldus, Kasten, Roth
7
9
77.8
1974
Zablocki, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Aspin, Baldus, Kasten
6
9
66.7
1972
Zablocki, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Aspin, Davis, Froehlich
6
9
66.7
1970
Zablocki, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Aspin, Davis
5
10
50.0
1968
Zablocki, Laird, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Davis, Schadeberg
6
10
60.0
1966
Zablocki, Laird, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Davis, Schadeberg
6
10
60.0
1964
Zablocki, Laird, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Davis, Stalbaum
6
10
60.0
1962
Zablocki, Laird, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Schadeberg
5
10
50.0
1960
Zablocki, Laird, Reuss, Kastenmeier, Schadeberg
5
10
50.0
1958
Zablocki, Laird, Reuss, Kastenmeier
4
10
40.0
1956
L. Smith, Zablocki, Laird, Reuss, Tewes
5
10
50.0
1954
L. Smith, Davis, Laird, Reuss
4
10
40.0
1952
L. Smith, Davis, Laird
3
10
30.0
1950
L. Smith, Davis
2
10
20.0
1948
L. Smith, Davis
2
10
20.0
1946
L. Smith, Davis*, Brophy
3
10
30.0
1944
L. Smith
1
10
10.0
1942
L. Smith
1
10
10.0
1940
Johns, L. Smith*
2
10
20.0
1938
Schafer, Johns, Hawkes
3
10
30.0
1936
Boileau
1
10
10.0
1934
Boileau
1
10
10.0
1932
Frear, Peavey, Boileau
3
10
30.0
1930
Frear, Schafer, Peavey, Boileau
4
11
36.4
1928
Frear, Schafer, Peavey
3
11
27.3
1926
Frear, Schafer, Peavey
3
11
27.3
1924
Frear, Schafer, Peavey
3
11
27.3
1922
Frear, Schafer, Peavey
3
11
27.3
1920
Frear, J. Kleczka
2
11
18.2
1918
Esch, Frear, J. Kleczka
2
11
18.2
1916
Esch, Frear
2
11
18.2
1914
Esch, Frear
2
11
18.2
1912
Esch, Frear
2
11
18.2
1910
Esch
1
11
9.1
1908
Esch
1
11
9.1
1906
Jenkins, Esch
2
11
18.2
1904
Jenkins, Minor, Esch
3
11
27.3
1902
Jenkins, Minor, Esch
3
11
27.3
1900
Jenkins, Minor, Esch
3
10
30.0
1898
Jenkins, Minor, Esch
3
10
30.0
1896
Griffin, Jenkins, Minor
3
10
30.0
1894
Griffin, Jenkins, Minor, Cook
4
10
40.0
1892
Griffin*
1
10
10.0
1890
J. Mitchell, Miller, Bushnell
3
9
33.3
1888
Caswell, Thomas, Clark
3
9
33.3
1886
Caswell, Thomas, Clark
3
9
33.3
1884
Rankin, Caswell, Thomas
3
9
33.3
1882
Rankin, Woodward, Winans
3
9
33.3
1880
Caswell, Bragg
2
8
25.0
1878
Caswell, Bragg, Bouck
3
8
37.5
1876
Caswell, Bragg, Bouck
3
8
37.5
1874
Rusk, Caswell, Burchard
3
8
37.5
1872
Rusk
1
8
12.5
1870
Rusk
1
6
16.7
1868
Cobb, Paine, Atwood*, Washburn
4
6
66.7
1866
Cobb, Paine, Washburn
3
6
50.0
1864
Cobb, McIndoe, Paine
3
6
50.0
1862
Cobb, McIndoe*
2
6
33.3
1860
(none)
0
3
0.0
1858
Washburn, Larrabee
2
3
66.7
1856
Washburn
1
3
33.3
1854
Washburn
1
3
33.3
1852
(none)
0
3
0.0
1850
(none)
0
3
0.0
1848
(none)
0
3
0.0
1848**
(none)
0
2
0.0
* Denotes winner of a special election held during that cycle. ** Election held in May 1848. Note: Clement Zablocki was elected in 1948 but did not join Air Force reserves until 1956. Table compiled by Smart Politics with data compiled from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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