End of an Era: Grassley/Harkin Finish #3 for US Senate Delegation Service

The Iowa duo ends up with the bronze medal for serving alongside each other in the chamber for 30 years

tomharkin10.jpgJoni Ernst took office this week as one of thirteen new faces in the nation’s upper legislative chamber.

Ernst took the seat of retired five-term Democratic Iowa U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, who had held the state’s Class II seat since 1985, serving alongside fellow delegation member Chuck Grassley during each of his 10,957 days in office.

Smart Politics has tracked the tenure of Harkin and Grassley in recent years as they climbed the list for the longest serving state delegation pairs in the history of the chamber.

With Harkin now retired, the final numbers are in.

Grassley and Harkin served exactly 30 years together, which is good for the third longest service for U.S. Senate delegation members from any state in the history of the chamber.

The pair fell short of only South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings and Mississippi Democrats James Eastland and John Stennis.

Thurmond and Hollings – also from opposing political parties – served 36 years, 1 month, and 26 days together from 1966 to 2003 when Thurmond retired from office at 100 years of age.

Eastland and Stennis served alongside one another from the Magnolia State from 1947 to 1978 (31 years, 1 month, 22 days) when Eastland resigned a week before the end of his sixth full term.

During Harkin’s final days in office, the Iowa duo passed up Maine’s Eugene Hale and William Frye (29 years, 11 months, 13 days) and Arkansas’ John McClellan and J. William Fulbright (29 years, 11 months, 28 days) to end up with the bronze.

With the end of the Grassley/Harkin era, the longest currently serving pair in the chamber now falls to California Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who have logged in 22 years and three days together through Tuesday.

Feinstein and Boxer rank #21 on the all-time list for delegation pairs and will next pass Alabama Democrats J. Lister Hill and John Sparkman (1946-1969) for #20 in less than two months.

Following Feinstein/Boxer are Alabama Republicans Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions at 18 years and three days followed by Washington Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell at 14 years and three days.

Grassley, who already owns Iowa’s mark as the state’s oldest U.S. Senator, is slated to pass Republican William Allison (1873-1908) in early June 2016 for the longest service in the chamber in Hawkeye State history.

Grassley is currently second on that list with Harkin third.

Longest Serving U.S. Senate State Delegation Pairs

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Rank
State
Senator
Senator
Years
Years
Months
Days
1
SC
Strom Thurmond
Fritz Hollings
1966-2003
36
1
26
2
MS
James Eastland
John Stennis
1947-1978
31
1
22
3
IA
Chuck Grassley
Tom Harkin
1985-2015
30
0
0
4
AR
John McClellan
J. William Fulbright
1945-1974
29
11
28
5
ME
Eugene Hale
William Frye
1881-1911
29
11
13
6
DE
Bill Roth
Joe Biden
1973-2001
28
0
0
6
WA
Warren Magnuson
Scoop Jackson
1953-1981
28
0
0
8
NC
Furnifold Simmons
Lee Overman
1903-1930
27
9
9
9
OR
Mark Hatfield
Bob Packwood
1969-1995
26
8
28
10
NM
Pete Domenici
Jeff Bingaman
1983-2009
26
0
0
10
WV
Jennings Randolph
Robert Byrd
1959-1985
26
0
0
12
WV
Robert Byrd
Jay Rockefeller
1985-2010
25
5
13
13
VT
George Edmunds
Justin Morrill
1867-1891
24
7
28
14
MA
Ted Kennedy
John Kerry
1985-2009
24
7
23
15
CT
Orville Platt
Joseph Hawley
1881-1905
24
0
0
15
MO
Francis Cockrell
George Vest
1879-1903
24
0
0
17
GA
Walter George
Richard Russell
1933-1957
23
11
21
18
LA
Allen Ellender
Russell Long
1948-1972
23
6
27
19
HI
Daniel Inouye
Daniel Akaka
1990-2012
22
7
1
20
AL
J. Lister Hill
John Sparkman
1946-1969
22
1
28
21
CA
Dianne Feinstein
Barbara Boxer
1993-present*
22
0
3
22
CT
Chris Dodd
Joe Lieberman
1989-2011
22
0
0
22
WY
Clarence Clark
Francis Warren
1895-1917
22
0
0
24
NE
Roman Hruska
Carl Curtis
1955-1976
21
11
26
25
AK
Ted Stevens
Frank Murkowski
1981-2002
21
10
29
26
ND
Milton Young
Quentin Burdick
1960-1981
20
4
26
27
RI
Claiborne Pell
John Chafee
1976-1997
20
0
5
28
MD
Paul Sarbanes
Barbara Mikulski
1987-2007
20
0
0
28
NJ
Clifford Case
Harrison Williams
1959-1979
20
0
0

* As of January 6, 2015. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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