« Shabbos Frivolity: Harvey and Sheila | Main | Book Report: Out of Many Waters »

More outliers in the Senate, or rather fewer

A couple of years ago, Your Humble Blogger looked up the Senate Seniority list and wrote about Outliers and typicals. I was surprised at the time to discover that half of all Senators were in their first or second terms, and another quarter were in their third. There were 26 who had served more than eighteen years, with Sen. Akaka being the 26th in seniority, having been appointed just before the 1990 election.

Now there’s a new list. Sen. Akaka will be 21st in seniority come this January. Senators Byrd and Kennedy have died, of course, and Senators Dodd, Specter and Bond will not be returning. Of course, another two years have passed, so we have to count down: the question is how many Senators will have served more than three complete terms. The group first elected in 1992 is down to three, after Senators Dorgan, Gregg, Feingold and Bennett dropped out. They are about to start their fourth terms, so they line up after Sen. Akaka. Sen. Feingold got a seniority edge because she was in a special election (which was on the same day as the general, but she got sworn in first), so it’s a tie between Senators Boxer and Murray for 23 and 24. The next on the list, Sen. Hutchison, has served just under three full terms.

In other words, the situation hasn’t changed very much. More than half the Senate is new since 1999, that is, has served less than two full terms; about three-quarters have served less than three. The outliers have changed, of course. Pat Leahy was elected to his seventh term; only Daniel Inouye is in his eighth and no-one is working on a ninth. There were five Senators in their sixth terms two years ago; now Chuck Grassley has joined them.

I wonder who will be the next outlier, though. Who is the next fifty year senator, or forty-five, or even forty? Who will be elected not only to a seventh but an eighth term? Carl Levin? He was born in 1934; in 2014 he could be re-elected at only eighty, but could he be re-elected again in 2020? Dick Lugar was born in 1932 and if he wants to run in 2012 is sure to win. Could he be re-elected in 2018 at the age of eighty-six? Or Orrin Hatch, who will be only eighty-four? Thad Cochran would need to win in 2014 and then in 2020, when he will be only eighty-three. Max Baucus would only be seventy-nine in 2020, but a strong Republican in Montana might well beat him. And there’s Chuck Grassley, who would need to win in 2016 and 2022, when he would be almost ninety. Maybe—and I don’t know that I would put money on it—John Kerry will stick around the Senate for another three terms, winning his eighth in 2026, when he will be a spry windsurfing eighty-three.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


i suppose we'll all watch the supreme court decide about the first cyborg senator in real time, in a corner of our field of vision.

Talk in these parts is that Lugar might get teabagged in 2012. I don't see it, actually, since the Republican electorate of Indiana selected the well-engineered corporate tool Dan Coats this year, but I do expect that Lugar with face a primary challenge from the far right.

Comments are closed for this entry. Usually if I close comments for an entry it's because that entry gets a disproportionate amount of spam. If you want to contact me about this entry, feel free to send me email.