Monday, May 20, 2013

Dynasty Semi-Update

Is there a new wave of dynastic politicians coming to Congress?

National Journal's Sarah Mimms has the story... or, at least, the beginnings of the story, highlighting a bunch of dynastic candidates (Mike Collins, son of Mac; Michelle Nunn, daughter of Sam; Gwen Graham, daughter of Bob, and more) running or considering running in the 2016 cycle.

Regular readers will know this is a story I follow. So I'm interested. At the same time, I'd urge caution about concluding that there's a trend here. The way this works is that national reporters are more likely to notice the candidates from famous families who are running or thinking of running, and to collectively overestimate their chances. In this story, we have some candidates who are actually running, others who are being urged to run, and even one who is saying he would like to run when the current incumbent retires -- which, as far as I know, could be in 2014 or could be in 2024.

The point is that we're far more likely to hear from the national press that Brendan Johnson (son of retiring Senator Tim) "hasn't ruled out" a campaign than we are to hear that some state senator that no one in Washington has ever heard of has also not ruled out the contest. And so it's easy to get an exaggerated impression of how common dynastic politicians really are.

Which isn't to say that the actual number is the correct one, whatever it may be.

1 comment:

  1. Here in New Jersey, two of our 6 Republican Congressmen are from dynasties: Leonard Lance of the 7th district, whose father was NJ State Senate President in the late 1950s, and Rodney Frelinghuysen of the 11th district, whose father served in Congress from 1952 through 1974, and whose great-great-great grandfather was vice-presidential nominee of the Henry Clay headed Whig ticket in 1844. These two are generally considered our two most effective Congressmen from New Jersey, especially Frelinghuysen, Chair of the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, and likely next Appropriations full committee Chairman if Republicans hold the House in the 2016 election. One of Frelinghuysen's ancestors was a member of the Continental Congress, so this family has been active in New Jersey politics for over 230 years! Perhaps there is something in the Frelinghuysen gene pool that makes them effective legislators.


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