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Radel Resigns with 2nd Shortest US House Tenure in Florida History

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The only other Floridian with a shorter stint in the U.S. House served 141 years ago after successfully contesting the state's at-large Election of 1870

treyradel10.jpgRepublican U.S. Representative Trey Radel's letter of resignation to House Speaker John Boehner Monday marked an about-face for the embattled Congressman who had endured pressure to vacate his seat ever since his arrest for attempting to buy cocaine in D.C. from an undercover federal agent became public last November.

Over the last two-plus months, Radel had seemingly ignored attempts from GOP colleagues to persuade him to quietly step aside. Instead he remained in office and entered a rehab facility after admitting he was battling alcoholism.

But now, with his resignation effective Monday, Radel will go down in the history books with one of the shortest ever stints in the nation's lower legislative chamber for a Sunshine State U.S. Representative.

A Smart Politics analysis finds that Trey Radel's tenure of 389 days in the U.S. House is the second shortest among the 132 Floridians to serve as U.S. Representative in state history, and the shortest among those seated at the convening of a new Congress.

Radel entered the chamber along with five other true freshmen from Florida on January 3, 2013: Republicans Ron DeSantis and Ted Yoho and Democrats Lois Frankel, Joe Garcia, and Patrick Murphy.

But while his colleagues will continue to serve their respective districts on Tuesday and beyond, Radel's time in the U.S. House of Representatives ended late Monday, for a span of just 389 days.

Only one other Floridian served fewer days in the chamber - and that came under very unusual circumstances.

The state's fourth U.S. House election after the Civil War in 1870 pitted Conservative Democrat Silas Niblack (a former slave owner and veteran of the Confederacy) against the Republican nominee, Josiah Walls (an African-American) for the state's lone at-large seat.

Walls, who was nearly assassinated during his campaign, became one of the first black Americans elected to Congress with a 2.6-point victory and was seated on March 4, 1871.

Niblack contested the election, however, on the grounds that Democratic ballots were improperly rejected in several counties.

Nearly two years later, the House Committee on Elections ruled in Niblack's favor and he was seated on January 29, 1873.

In the end, Niblack served just 33 days in office before the end of the term on March 3, 1873.

Before the U.S. House had ruled on the contest, Walls and Niblack were among four candidates running for two-at large seats in the Election of 1872.

Walls finished second and would retake his seat in March 1873, but Niblack finished third and would never return to the chamber.

Presuming DeSantis, Yoho, Frankel, Garcia, and Murphy each serve until at least May 18th of this year, only one other Florida U.S. House member has served less than 500 days in the chamber.

Democrat William Brockenbrough ran as his party's nominee for the at-large seat after statehood in 1845.

Brockenbrough was defeated by Whig nominee Edward Cabell by 51 votes but successfully contested the election and was seated on January 24, 1846.

Brockenbrough served 403 days until the end of the term on March 3, 1847.

Radell now becomes the seventh Floridian to resign from the U.S. House and the fifth to do so over the last 12.5 years:

· Four-term Republican Joe Scarborough resigned in September 2001, giving the reason he wished to spend more time with his family

· Eight-term Republican Porter Goss resigned in September 2004 to become Director of the CIA

· Six-term Republican Mark Foley resigned in September 2006 after it became public he had sent sexually explicit messages to at least one underage male former page

· Seven-term Democrat Robert Wexler resigned in January 2010 to become President of the Center for Middle East Peace

Two other Florida U.S. Representatives resigned from their seats since statehood:

· One-term Republican William Purman resigned in January 1875 to become a member of the Florida House for one session (Purman had already won reelection to his U.S. House seat, which he took at the start of the 44th Congress in March 1875).

· Ten-term Democrat Lex Green resigned near the end of his final term in November 1944 to enter the U.S. Navy where he served as a lieutenant commander. Green had already decided not to seek reelection to his seat that cycle but instead ran for and failed to receive his party's nomination for governor.

Shortest Tenures of Florida U.S. Representatives Since Statehood

US Representative
Party
Years
# Days
Silas Niblack
Democrat
1873-1873
33
Trey Radel
Republican
2013-2014
389
Ron DeSantis
Republican
2013-present
390*
Lois Frankel
Democrat
2013-present
390*
Joe Garcia
Democrat
2013-present
390*
Patrick Murphy
Democrat
2013-present
390*
Ted Yoho
Republican
2013-present
390*
William Brockenbrough
Democrat
1846-1847
403
Noble Hull
Democrat
1879-1881
690
James Kehoe
Democrat
1917-1919
729
Claude L'Engle
Democrat
1913-1915
729
Courtney Campbell
Democrat
1953-1955
730
Bill Gunter
Democrat
1973-1975
730
Suzanne Kosmas
Democrat
2009-2011
730
Chester McMullen
Democrat
1951-1953
731
Edward Stack
Democrat
1979-1981
731
Tim Mahoney
Democrat
2007-2009
731
Sandy Adams
Republican
2011-2013
731
David Rivera
Republican
2011-2013
731
Allen West
Republican
2011-2013
731
Jesse Finley
Democrat
1876-1877; 1879; 1881-1882
783
Charles Hamilton
Republican
1868-1871
975
Alan Grayson
Democrat
2009-2011; 2013-present
1120*
Richard Nugent
Republican
2011-present
1121*
Dennis Ross
Republican
2011-present
1121*
Steve Souterland
Republican
2011-present
1121*
Daniel Webster
Republican
2011-present
1121*
Frederica Wilson
Democrat
2011-present
1121*
Ted Deutch
Democrat
2010-present
1385*
George Hawkins
Democrat
1857-1861
1419
William Purman
Republican
1873-1875; 1875-1877
1422
Augustus Maxwell
Democrat
1853-1857
1460
Charles Dougherty
Democrat
1885-1889
1460
Robert Bullock
Democrat
1889-1893
1460
Stephen Mallory
Democrat
1891-1895
1460
Charles Cooper
Democrat
1893-1897
1460
Dannite Mays
Democrat
1909-1913
1460
Emmett Wilson
Democrat
1913-1917
1460
Ruth Owen
Democrat
1929-1933
1460
George Smathers
Democrat
1947-1951
1461
William Lantaff
Democrat
1951-1955
1461
James Grant
Dem/Rep
1987-1991
1461
Craig James
Republican
1989-1993
1461
James Bacchus
Democrat
1991-1995
1461
Katherine Harris
Republican
2003-2007
1461
Ron Klein
Democrat
2007-2011
1461
* Still in office. Data through January 28, 2014. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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