Senate Will Have Historic Number of Ex-US Reps in 114th Congress

With a Cassidy victory in Louisiana, the 114th Congress will convene with more U.S. Senators who previously served in the U.S. House than in any Congress dating back to at least 1899

senateseal10.pngOne of the criticisms levied against the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” in recent years is that the U.S. Senate is acting too much like the House of Representatives.

As new blood enters the chamber for the 114th Congress, that stigma will likely be hard to shake.

A dozen new U.S. Senators will be sworn into office in January, with a 13th likely, pending Louisiana’s runoff election between Bill Cassidy and underdog incumbent Mary Landrieu.

Even as Congress suffered through historic low approval ratings during the 113th Congress – dipping into single digits at times – when it came time to elect new members of the U.S. Senate on November 4th, half of those chosen by voters came from the belly of the (partisan) beast – the House of Representatives.

And after Saturday that number will likely grow even more – to a level not seen since at least the 1800s.

A Smart Politics analysis finds that if Bill Cassidy is elected in Louisiana’s runoff election Saturday, the 114th Congress will convene with more ex-U.S. Representatives – 53 – than in any Congress dating back to at least 1899.

When the 113th Congress convened nearly two years ago, 51 members had served in the House after the appointment of South Carolina Republican Tim Scott to Jim DeMint’s seat that January and the election of Arizona Republican Jeff Flake and Democrats Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich, and Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin.

After 20-term Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Representative Ed Markey filled John Kerry’s seat in July 2013 it tied a mark set in the 109th Congress for the most ex-U.S. Representatives in the Senate since at least the turn of the 20th Century with 52.

(U.S. Senate historical records which cull this information by Congress date back only to the 56th Congress, 1899-1901).

The resignation of Montana Democrat Max Baucus in February 2014 brought that number back down to 51 with five others departing the chamber next month: defeated Colorado Democrat Mark Udall, retiring Democrats Tom Harkin of Iowa and Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and retiring Republicans Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

If Cassidy is elected in Louisiana on Saturday, seven new names will be added to this list in the 114th Congress for total of 53, along with Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, Colorado Republican Cory Gardner, Michigan Democrat Gary Peters, Montana Republican Steve Daines, Oklahoma Republican James Lankford, and West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito.

Cotton and Daines come directly from the House as freshmen – only the 18th and 19th one-term U.S. Representatives to win a Senate seat over the last 100 years.

The percentage of U.S. Senators who are coming from the House has been rising considerably in recent decades.

In the 1980s (97th through 101st Congresses), an average of just 32.6 percent of members of the upper legislative chamber first served in the U.S. House.

That increased to 39.0 percent in the 1990s, 49.8 percent in the 2000s, and now 51.0 percent in the 2010s.

Decade-long averages from the 1900s through the 1970s never reached the mid-40s, with the highest peaks of 42.8 percent in the 1960s, 42.1 percent in the 1900s, and 38.8 percent in the 1950s.

Prior to 2000, the only cycles in which a Congress convened with at least 45 percent of its body coming from the U.S. House were in 1907 (47.8 percent), 1959 (45.0 percent), and 1963 (45.0 percent).

Since 2000, that number has held steady coming in at 49 percent or higher.

Overall, the percentage of U.S. Senators in the 114th Congress who previously served in the House is significantly higher than the institution’s average.

Of the more than 1,950 men and women who have served in the U.S. Senate since its inception in 1789, a total of 615 first served in the U.S. House, or 31.3 percent (including Senators-elect to the 114th Congress).

Fifteen U.S. Senate delegations will be comprised of members who first served in the House: Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

With Cassidy, the partisan tally of ex-U.S. Representatives in the chamber will be 29 Republicans, 23 Democrats, and one independent.

Variation by State

Hawaii has turned to the lower legislative chamber to elect (or appoint) its U.S. Senators more than any other state with four of its seven members in history having previously served in the U.S. House, or 57.1 percent.

No other state eclipses the 50 percent mark with Virginia next at 48.1 percent (26 of 54 Senators) followed by Massachusetts at 47.2 percent (25 of 53), Connecticut at 45.5 percent (25 of 55), and Maryland at 44.6 percent (25 of 56).

Lankford’s victory in Oklahoma’s special election last month brings the Sooner State to 44.4 percent (eight of 18).

Maine comes in at #7 with 40.5 percent (15 of 37) with Indiana at 40.0 percent (18 of 45), New Hampshire at 39.7 percent (25 of 63), and Washington at 39.1 percent (nine of 23) rounding out the Top 10.

On the other end of the spectrum, none of Alaska’s seven Senators first served in the House, with just 8.1 percent from Oregon (three of 37), 14.3 percent from Wyoming (three of 21), 14.7 percent from Florida (five of 34), 15.8 percent from Nebraska (six of 37), 17.9 percent from Minnesota (seven of 39), and 18.8 percent from Utah (three of 16).

U.S. Senators Who First Served in U.S. House By State

Rank
State
# Ex-US Reps
# Senators
% Ex-US Reps
1
Hawaii
4
7
57.1
2
Virginia
26
54
48.1
3
Massachusetts
25
53
47.2
4
Connecticut
25
55
45.5
5
Maryland
25
56
44.6
6
Oklahoma
8
18
44.4
7
Maine
15
37
40.5
8
Indiana
18
45
40.0
9
New Hampshire
25
63
39.7
10
Washington
9
23
39.1
11
Michigan
15
39
38.5
12
Vermont
15
40
37.5
13
New York
22
59
37.3
14
South Dakota
10
27
37.0
15
Illinois
18
49
36.7
16
Arizona
4
11
36.4
16
Kentucky
24
66
36.4
18
Pennsylvania
19
53
35.8
19
Ohio
20
56
35.7
20
Georgia
21
61
34.4
21
Arkansas
12
35
34.3
22
Iowa
11
34
32.4
23
Mississippi
14
44
31.8
23
Montana
7
22
31.8
25
Tennessee
18
58
31.0
26
Colorado
11
36
30.6
27
South Carolina
17
56
30.4
28
Alabama
12
40
30.0
29
New Mexico
5
17
29.4
30
Wisconsin
8
28
28.6
31
Texas
9
32
28.1
32
Delaware
14
51
27.5
33
Kansas
9
33
27.3
33
North Carolina
15
55
27.3
33
West Virginia
9
33
27.3
36
North Dakota
6
23
26.1
37
Idaho
6
26
23.1
38
Louisiana
11
49
22.4
39
California
9
43
20.9
40
Rhode Island
10
48
20.8
41
Missouri
9
45
20.0
41
Nevada
5
25
20.0
43
New Jersey
13
66
19.7
44
Utah
3
16
18.8
45
Minnesota
7
39
17.9
46
Nebraska
6
38
15.8
47
Florida
5
34
14.7
48
Wyoming
3
21
14.3
49
Oregon
3
37
8.1
50
Alaska
0
8
0.0

* Includes Louisiana’s December 2014 runoff election. Table compiled by Smart Politics with information culled from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Overall, these 53 members (and members-elect) of the U.S. Senate served an average of 4.7 terms in the House.

When Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey won a special election in 2013 he shattered the record for the longest prior House service for a U.S. Senator at more than 36 years.

Senator-elect Capito has seven terms in the lower chamber on her resume with three terms for Peters, and two terms each for Gardner and Lankford. (Cassidy also has served three terms in the House).

Capito is tied for the seventh longest U.S. House service among her 50+ colleagues behind Markey (20 terms), Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin (10), New York Democrat Chuck Schumer (nine), Kansas Republican Pat Roberts (eight), Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden (eight), and Vermont independent Bernie Sanders (eight).

Also serving seven terms were Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Republicans Jerry Moran of Kansas, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Rob Portman of Ohio.

All but six of these 53 U.S. Senators to serve in the 114th Congress won their Senate seats without a gap in service between the two chambers.

Florida Democrat Bill Nelson had the largest gap of 10 years with Delaware Democrat Tom Carper at eight years, Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey at six, Ohio Republican Rob Portman at four, and South Dakota Republican John Thune at two.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

4 Comments on "Senate Will Have Historic Number of Ex-US Reps in 114th Congress"

  1. I believe Oklahoma has had only 18 senators and South Carolina 56.

    • Eric Ostermeier | December 7, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Reply

      The table Includes members-elect for all states except Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy. With James Lankford, Oklahoma has had 19 Senators and South Carolina has had 57 according to the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress.

  2. I’m also counting senators-elect.

    However, if you only use the tables in the BioGuide you will miss some blind see references. For example, the entry for “THOMAS, Elmer” is a see reference to “THOMAS, John William Elmer,” and the entry for “SMITH, Thomas Barnwell” is a see reference to “RHETT, Robert Barnwell.”

    There are your 2 over counts.

    FYI there are also blind see references (and therefore possible over counts) for Lambert (AR), Foote (CT), Levy (FL), Baker, Nancy (KS), and Bridges (NH).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


University of Minnesota Wordmark

Contact Information

Humphrey School of Public Affairs | 130 Humphrey School, 301 19th Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55455