Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Old-ish Senate Update

No, the Senate isn't suddenly getting young -- but it's certainly backing off the record levels it was at a few years ago.

The latest updates? Jim DeMint is 61; he'll be replaced by Tim Scott, who is 47.

Daniel Inouye died at 88. He wrote to Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie before his death asking that Colleen Hanabusa, who is finishing up her first term in the House, get the appointment to succeed him; whoever Abercrombie appoints will hold the seat through 2014. Abercrombie will be limited, however, to a list that the Hawaii Democratic Party supplies. Hanabusa is 61. Worth noting? Blue Dog Hawaii pol Ed case is 60; Hawaii's newest Member of Congress, or I suppose Member-Elect, is Tulsi Gabbard, who was born in April 1981. I don't know enough about Hawaii politics to know who the other potential candidates are.

And while it's not certain until it's certain, everyone has John Kerry replacing Hillary Clinton at State. Kerry is 69. No way at all of knowing who gets either the temporary appointment or who wins the subsequent special election (or if Massachusetts changes their succession law again, for that matter). There is talk of Ed Markey, 66, running; most of the other possibilities would be younger, but I'll save a list of candidates until we know more. Of course, a short-term appointment could well be older. But, you know, probably not a lot older.

From the perspective of Senate aging, Scott is very solid, and Hanabusa would be a real missed opportunity, especially after Mazie Hirona took the other seat -- yes, if Hanabusa is appointed, Hawaii would have two baby Senators, ages 61 and 65. And given the Aloha State's electoral history, they would probably both be there as long as they wanted and stayed alive. Massachusetts? We'll see.

Even in the most pessimistic scenario, we're still talking about shaving almost 40 years off of the total Senate age, which is not bad at all. But I'd like to see a 100 year reduction from just these three seats. That would be a real dent in the aging of the Senate. Hey, Hawaii Democrats and Governor Abercrombie! Step up for a younger Senate!


  1. Now with Leahy we have a pro tem who's only 72 years old. Is this some kind of record? Okay, probably not, but it's still shocking to someone who grew up with the likes of Robert Byrd, Ted Stevens, and Strom Thurmond.

  2. Byrd was only 71 when he became president pro tem for the first time in 1989. James Eastland was 67 when he became president pro tem in 1972. Richard Russell was 71 when he became president pro tem in 1969.

    As we go back earlier, and senators generally had less seniority, we get younger still. Styles Bridges became president pro tem at 54 in 1953. Arthur Vandenberg was 62 in 1947. Pat Harrison was 59 in 1941. Key Pittman was 60 in 1933. Georges Moses was 56 in 1925. Willard Saulsbury, Jr. was only 51 in 1913. Before that it gets messy, so I'll stop. But certainly plenty of president pro tems who have been younger than Leahy is now (including Byrd!)

  3. In 2014, Cory Booker (then 45) will likely replace Frank Lautenberg (then 90) in the Senate. Happy holidays, JB!


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