Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Kevin McCarthy Becomes Least Tenured Floor Leader in US House History

Bookmark and Share

At less than four terms, McCarthy has served 423 fewer days in the chamber than any floor leader in U.S. House history and almost 10 years less than the average leader

kevinmccarthy10.jpgAfter the Republican tsunami in 2010, then North Carolina Democratic U.S. Representative Heath Shuler made a long-shot bid for Minority Leader against Nancy Pelosi, who would lose her Speakership at the convening of the 112th Congress.

At that time, Smart Politics documented how Shuler, who had just been elected to his third term at the age of 38, would have become by far the youngest and least experienced legislator among the nearly three-dozen individuals to serve in the majority or minority leadership positions since the late 1800s.

That didn't happen, of course, as Pelosi won easily.

But while the election of California Republican and GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy by his caucus Thursday to succeed Eric Cantor as Majority Leader did not set a record for youngest floor leader in history, he did shatter the record for the least experience.

A Smart Politics study of the more than three-dozen majority and minority leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives finds that McCarthy, with less than four full terms under his belt, has the least experience of any floor leader in the chamber's history by more than a year and nearly 10 years less than the average leader.

When Eric Cantor steps down from his leadership position at the end of July, Rep. McCarthy will become Majority Leader with just 7 years, 6 months, 29 days of service in the chamber, or 2,767 days. (Note: McCarthy did serve as Minority Leader of the California Assembly for more than two years prior to his election to Congress).

That is well less than half of the average legislative experience in the chamber for the previous three-dozen individuals to serve as floor leader since the late 1800s.

The average length of U.S. House service at the time of these 36 floor leaders' initial election to their party's leadership position was 6,268 days, or more than 17 years in office.

Prior to McCarthy, the low water mark for days served in the chamber was held by Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt of Missouri.

The Republican was in his fifth term after Tom Delay's departure from the post in September 2005 and had served 8 years, 8 months, 25 days (3,190 days) - or 423 days longer than McCarthy.

Republicans Dick Armey of Texas and Eric Cantor of Virginia had each served 10 years before becoming Majority Leader in 1995 and 2011 respectively, or 3,652 days of service in the chamber.

When Democrat John Sharp Williams of Mississippi became Minority Leader in 1903 he had also served for 10 years.

The member of Congress who paid the most dues before becoming a floor leader was Democrat Henry Rainey of Illinois.

Rainey had logged 26 years, 8 months, 30 days in the House (9,774 days) between two stints before he became Majority Leader in 1931.

Three others also had a waiting period of more than a quarter-century:

· Democrat John Garner of Texas was in office 26 years (9,497 days) before becoming Minority Leader in 1929
· Democrat Hale Boggs of Louisiana had also served 26 years in two stints (9,496 days) when he became Majority Leader in 1971
· Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland was in office 25 years, 7 months, 15 days (9,360 days) when he became Majority Leader in 2007

Number of Days Served in U.S. House Before Becoming Party Floor Leader

Representative
State
Party
Leader
Year
Yrs
# Days
Kevin McCarthy*
CA
GOP
Majority
2014
7 yrs, 6 months, 29 days
2,767
Roy Blunt
MO
GOP
Majority**
2005
8 yrs, 8 months, 25 days
3,190
John Sharp Williams
MS
DEM
Minority
1903
10 yrs
3,651
Dick Armey
TX
GOP
Majority
1995
10 yrs
3,652
Eric Cantor
VA
GOP
Majority
2011
10 yrs
3,652
John McCormack
MA
DEM
Majority
1940
11 yrs, 10 months, 20 days
4,342
Charles Halleck
IN
GOP
Majority
1947
11 yrs, 11 months, 5 days
4,357
Dick Gephardt
MO
DEM
Majority
1989
12 yrs, 5 months, 3 days
4,537
Sereno Payne
NY
GOP
Majority
1899
13 yrs, 2 months, 29 days
4,839
Joseph Martin
MA
GOP
Minority
1939
13 yrs, 9 months, 30 days
5,053
Oscar Underwood
AL
DEM
Majority
1911
14 yrs
5,112
James Mann
IL
GOP
Minority
1911
14 yrs
5,112
James Richardson
TN
DEM
Minority
1899
14 yrs
5,113
Claude Kitchin
NC
DEM
Majority
1915
14 yrs
5,113
John Tilson
CT
GOP
Majority
1925
13 yrs, 11 months, 27 days
5,113
Carl Albert
OK
DEM
Majority
1962
15 yrs, 7 days
5,486
John Boehner
OH
GOP
Majority
2006
15 yrs, 30 days
5,509
Bertrand Snell
NY
GOP
Minority
1931
15 yrs, 4 months, 2 days
5,601
Nancy Pelosi
CA
DEM
Minority
2003
15 yrs, 7 months, 1 day
5,694
Champ Clark
MO
DEM
Minority
1908
15 yrs, 9 months, 1 day
5,754
Gerald Ford
MI
GOP
Minority
1965
16 yrs
5,844
William Bankhead
AL
DEM
Majority
1935
17 yrs, 9 months, 30 days
6,514
Finis Garrett
TN
DEM
Minority
1923
18 yrs
6,574
Nicholas Longworth
OH
GOP
Majority
1923
17 yrs, 11 months, 27 days
6,574
Tom Delay
TX
GOP
Majority
2003
18 yrs
6,574
Frank Mondell
WY
GOP
Majority
1919
20 yrs
7,304
Tip O'Neill
MA
DEM
Majority
1973
20 yrs
7,305
John Rhodes
AZ
GOP
Minority
1973
20 yrs, 11 months, 4 days
7,643
Tom Foley
WA
DEM
Majority
1987
22 yrs
8,035
Jim Wright
TX
DEM
Majority
1977
22 yrs
8,036
Sam Rayburn
TX
DEM
Majority
1937
23 yrs, 9 months, 30 days
8,706
Joseph Byrns
TN
DEM
Majority
1933
24 yrs
8,766
Robert Michel
IL
GOP
Minority
1981
24 yrs
8,766
Steny Hoyer
MD
DEM
Majority
2007
25 yrs, 7 months, 15 days
9,360
Hale Boggs
LA
DEM
Majority
1971
26 yrs
9,496
John Garner
TX
DEM
Minority
1929
26 yrs
9,497
Henry Rainey
IL
DEM
Majority
1931
26 yrs, 8 months, 30 days
9,774
* McCarthy will become Majority Leader after Cantor steps down on July 31st. ** Blunt served as Acting Majority Leader. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

In general, Republicans have elected floor leaders with less experience than have Democrats over the decades.

The average length of service for the 20 Democrats at the time they first became floor leader was 6,843 days, or more than 18.5 years.

Meanwhile, the 17 Republican floor leaders had served an average of 5,385 days in the chamber, or approximately four fewer years.

The average age of those first elected to the positions of majority or minority leader is just shy of 55 years.

At a shade more than 49 and one-half years old, McCarthy will become the seventh youngest majority leader and ninth youngest floor leader in the chamber's history.

The youngest member to be elected majority or minority leader was North Carolina Democrat Claude Kitchin who became majority leader in 1915 at the age of 45.

Before McCarthy, seven other representatives were elected to these leadership posts before the age of 50:

· Charles Halleck of Indiana at age 46 (GOP Majority Leader in 1947)
· Finis Garrett of Tennessee at age 47 (Democratic Minority Leader in 1923)
· Dick Gephardt of Missouri at age 47 (Democratic Majority Leader in 1989)
· Eric Cantor of Virginia at age 47 (Republican Majority Leader in 2011)
· John Sharp Williams of Mississippi at age 48 (Democratic Minority Leader in 1903)
· Oscar Underwood of Alabama at age 48 (Democratic Majority Leader in 1911)
· John McCormack of Massachusetts at age 48 (Democratic Majority Leader in 1940)

Twenty other leaders were elected when in their 50s, seven more in their 60s, and one (Henry Rainey of Illinois) at the age of 70.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Will Obama Stop Referring to Washington as the "Redskins?"
Next post: Inhofe Eyes Record-Breaking Election Win in 2014

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Kevin McCarthy Becomes Least Tenured Floor Leader in US House History

At less than four terms, McCarthy has served 423 fewer days in the chamber than any floor leader in U.S. House history and almost 10 years less than the average leader.

Political Crumbs

The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


How Are the Plurality Winners Doing?

Nearly 40 percent of plurality winners of U.S. Senate elections lose their seat in the next election cycle. Will that happen to any of the three such incumbents on the ballot in 2014? Recent polling suggests Democrats Al Franken of Minnesota, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon all currently have an advantage over their nominated/frontrunning GOP opponents, but each is flirting with plurality support once again. Franken led endorsed GOPer Mike McFadden 48 to 42 percent in a new SurveyUSA poll while the polling group showed Merkley with a 50 to 32 percent advantage over Monica Wehby. Begich led each of the three major GOP candidates in last month's PPP survey: 42 to 37 percent over Daniel Sullivan, 41 to 33 percent over Mead Treadwell, and 43 to 27 percent over Joe Miller.


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