McCain Poised to Become Arizona’s #2 Longest-Serving Senator

If reelected, McCain will pass Barry Goldwater in Senate service, but would need to win a seventh term in 2022 and serve until November 5, 2028 to pass Carl Hayden

johnmccain10.jpgJohn McCain’s decision this week to seek a sixth term stands in contrast to several of his long-serving colleagues who decided to retire after their fifth or sixth term in the last few cycles such as Barbara Mikulski (in 2016), Harry Reid (2016), Carl Levin (2014), Jay Rockefeller (2014), Tom Harkin (2014), and Jeff Bingaman (2012).

McCain will undoubtedly face a primary challenger next year, and perhaps even a top-tier candidate such as one of the state’s sitting GOP U.S. Representatives (Matt Salmon, Trent Franks, David Schweikert etc.).

If victorious, McCain will climb the chamber’s senior list from his current standing of #8 by at least one notch due to Mikulski’s departure – with Democrat Pat Leahy of Vermont (#1) and Republicans Chuck Grassley of Iowa (#4) and Richard Shelby of Alabama (#7) all strong favorites to win reelection.

Despite his nearly 30 years of service, McCain’s U.S. Senate tenure still ranks as only the fourth longest in Arizona history – for a state that has sent just 11 individuals to the upper legislative chamber over the last 103 years since statehood.

McCain has served 28 years, 3 months, 6 days through Wednesday (10,323 days) – and still trails Democrats Carl Hayden, Republican Barry Goldwater, and Democrat Henry Ashurst.

Ashurst, a former Territorial legislator, was one of the state’s inaugural U.S. Senators who served from 1912 to 1941, or 28 years, 9 months, 8 days.

The Democrat exited the chamber after losing his party’s nomination in 1940 to future Majority Leader Ernest McFarland.

McCain will pass Ashurst for #3 on the list on October 13, 2015.

Barry Goldwater served 30 years and two days (10,959 days) between his two stints in the chamber from 1953 to 1965 and 1969 to 1987 which were divided due to his failed 1964 presidential bid.

If McCain loses reelection, he will tie Goldwater for #2 on the list, otherwise he will own second place to himself on the first full day of his second term – January 4, 2017.

At the top of the list, and effectively out of reach, is Carl Hayden, who logged 41 years and 10 months in the U.S. Senate from 1927 to 1969 (15,282 days).

Hayden, who was born in 1877, was 91 years, 3 months, 2 days old on his last day in office.

In order to overtake Hayden, McCain would need to get elected to not only a sixth term but also a seventh and serve nearly all of it – passing Hayden on November 5, 2028.

That would make McCain nearly a full year older than Hayden at the time of his retirement: 92 years, 2 months, 8 days of age.

Arizona’s newest senator, Republican Jeff Flake, currently has the shortest tenure in the chamber in Arizona history at 2 years, 3 months, 6 days through Wednesday.

For the record, Flake would need to serve until November 5, 2054 to pass Hayden – although he would be only 91 years, 10 months, 6 days of age.

The only former Arizona U.S. Senator to serve just one term was Republican Ralph Cameron (1921-1927) who was defeated by Hayden in 1926.

Of the nine former Senators in state history, three lost reelection bids (Marcus Smith in 1920, Ralph Cameron in 1926, and Ernest McFarland in 1952), one lost his party’s nomination (Henry Ashurst in 1940), and five did not seek another term (Goldwater in 1964 and 1986, Hayden in 1968, Republican Paul Fannin in 1976, Democrat Dennis DeConcini in 1994, and Republican Jon Kyl in 2012).

Length of Service by Arizona U.S. Senators

Rank
Senator
Party
Served
Years
Months
Days
# Days
1
Carl Hayden
Democrat
1927-1969
41
10
0
15,282
2
Barry Goldwater
Republican
1953-1965; 1969-1987
30
0
2
10,959
3
Henry Ashurst
Democrat
1912-1941
28
9
8
10,510
4
John McCain*
Republican
1987-present
28
3
6
10,323
5
Jon Kyl
Republican
1995-2013
18
0
1
6,576
6
Dennis DeConcini
Democrat
1977-1995
18
0
1
6,575
7
Paul Fannin
Republican
1965-1977
12
0
1
4,384
7
Ernest McFarland
Democrat
1941-1953
12
0
1
4,384
9
Marcus Smith
Democrat
1912-1921
8
11
5
3,264
10
Ralph Cameron
Republican
1921-1927
6
0
0
2,191
11
Jeff Flake*
Republican
2013-present
2
3
6
836

* Through April 8, 2015. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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