Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Wisconsin US House Delegation Experience, 1848-2014

Bookmark and Share

Sign of the times: 23 of the Top 25 most experienced delegations from the Badger State have been elected over the last 50 years

tompetri11.jpgThe announcement last week by 18-term Wisconsin U.S. Representative Tom Petri that he would retire at the end of this term adds another name to the ever-growing list of long-serving members of the chamber who are calling it quits in 2014.

Petri currently ranks ninth in House seniority in the 113th Congress and is the fourth longest-serving U.S. Representative in Wisconsin history.

As a result, his departure will certainly reduce the footprint of the Wisconsin delegation next January.

Petri's upcoming retirement comes on the heels of the retirement of 21-term Democrat David Obey in 2010, the defeat of two-term Democrat Steve Kagen in 2010, and an exit for the U.S. Senate by seven-term Democrat Tammy Baldwin in 2012.

Despite the loss of these members in recent cycles, Wisconsin's U.S. House delegation in the 114th Congress will still be one of the more seasoned in state history - although its collective experience will have dropped by nearly one-third from just a few years prior.

A Smart Politics analysis of the tenures of Wisconsin's 181 U.S. Representatives across the last 84 Congresses since statehood finds that 23 of the Top 25 most experienced delegations in state history have been elected during the last 50 years.

Wisconsin's current delegation of Republicans Petri (18 terms), Jim Sensenbrenner (18), Paul Ryan (8), Sean Duffy (2), and Reid Ribble (2) and Democrats Ron Kind (9), Gwen Moore (5), and Mark Pocan (1) is the sixth most experienced in state history.

The delegation to the 113th Congress boasts an average of 7.9 terms per representative in the chamber.

That tenure is bested by only five other delegations - four of which have been sworn in during the past decade.

· #1 = 111th Congress (Elected 2008) at 9.6 terms: Obey (21 terms), Sensenbrenner (16), Petri (16), Kind (7), Ryan (6), Baldwin (6), Moore (3), and Kagen (2).

· #2 = 110th Congress (Elected 2006) at 8.6 terms: Obey (20), Sensenbrenner (15), Petri (15), Kind (6), Ryan (5), Baldwin (5), Moore (2), and Kagen (1).

· #3 = 108th Congress (Elected 2002) at 8.5 terms: Obey (18), Sensenbrenner (13), Petri (13), Democrat Gerald Kleczka (11), Kind (4), Ryan (3), Baldwin (3), and Republican Mark Green (3).

· #4 = 109th Congress (Elected 2004) at 8.1 terms: Obey (19), Sensenbrenner (14), Petri (14), Kind (5), Ryan (4), Baldwin (4), Green (4), and Moore (1).

· #5 = 91st Congress (Elected 1968) at 8.0 terms: Republican Alvin O'Konski (14), Republican John Byrnes (13), Democrat Clement Zablocki (11), Republican Melvin Laird (9), Democrat Henry Reuss (8), Republican Glenn Davis (8), Democrat Robert Kastenmeier (6), Republican Vernon Thomson (5), Republican Henry Schadeberg (4), and Republican William Steiger (2). (Obey won a special election in 1969 to replace Laird who became Richard Nixon's Secretary of Defense).

And as for the Badger State delegation in 2015?

Assuming the remaining seven incumbents win reelection as they are expected to do, the addition of a freshman in Petri's 6th CD would combine to clock Wisconsin's U.S. Representatives at an average of 6.6 terms of service in the 114th Congress.

While that is a 15.9 percent decline in tenure from the 113th Congress and a 31 percent drop from the delegation's peak in the 111th Congress, it would still rank #17 for experience across the seven-dozen Congresses since Wisconsin became a state - landing in the 80th percentile.

The 15.9 percent decline would rank as the 16th biggest cycle-to-cycle drop in delegation experience in state history.

The greenest Wisconsin delegation since the turn of the 20th Century was the one sworn in after the Election of 1918.

Wisconsin's U.S. Representatives in the 66th Congress had an average of just 2.0 terms under their belts with Republicans John Esch (11 terms), Edward Browne (4), James Frear (4), Edward Voigt (2), Florian Lampart (2), David Classon (2), Adolphus Nelson (2), Clifford Randall (1), James Monohan (1), and John Kleczka (1) joined by Socialist Victor Berger (2) in the chamber.

At that time, Wisconsin's GOP was still in the midst of an intraparty battle between the conservative wing and La Follette's progressive wing. Republicans William Cary, Henry Cooper, and John Nelson all lost their party's nomination that cycle while William Stafford was defeated in the general election.

As a result, the average experience in the state delegation dropped 50.8 percent from 5.9 terms to 2.9 terms.

The greatest cycle-to-cycle drop in delegation experience took place during the early 1880s with a 55.6 percent decline from its eight members in the 48th Congress (3.0 terms) to its nine members in the 49th (1.3 terms).

Due to fewer U.S. Representatives losing their renomination bids, losing general election races, and dying in office over the last several decades (as well as less competitive districts generally), 23 of the Top 25 most experienced Wisconsin U.S. House delegations have been elected over the 50-year stretch from 1962 through 2012.

The only outliers are the delegations to the 70th and 71st Congresses - ranked #23 and #12 respectively - when the state's delegations were extremely stable in the mid-1920s.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Iowa Republicans Surrender Record Number of State House Seats in 2014
Next post: Will Kathleen Sebelius Seek a Rare Political Trifecta?

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting