SPOTLIGHT

We Were Merely Freshmen

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-MI,  the recently named Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for the House, sits down for an interview with Chris Stohm in his office on Monday, January 24, 2011.
National Journal
Scott Bland
March 28, 2014, 7:40 a.m.

With Rep. Mike Ro­gers‘s (R-MI) Fri­day re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment, his state’s House del­eg­a­tion con­tin­ues to bleed seni­or­ity: By next year, there will be at most 6 of 14 Michig­anders with more than two terms of House ex­per­i­ence. It’s one of many states feel­ing a re­cent loss of con­gres­sion­al clout.

— Cali­for­nia’s losses have been the most dra­mat­ic. Three Golden State com­mit­tee chairs or rank­ing mem­bers (Demo­crats Henry Wax­man and George Miller and Re­pub­lic­an Buck McK­eon) are re­tir­ing at the end of the year. In 2012, the state lost an­oth­er 4 com­mit­tee chairs and rank­ing mem­bers. That’s at least 7 in two years; 27 states have en­tire del­eg­a­tions smal­ler than that. Over­all, in that time, 21 Cali­for­nia House mem­bers total­ing over 200 terms of ser­vice have re­tired or been de­feated.

— Of course, Cali­for­nia also has a large cast of play­ers re­main­ing, in­clud­ing Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, Ma­jor­ity Whip Kev­in Mc­Carthy, and Demo­crat­ic Caucus chair Xavi­er Be­cerra. Com­pare that to the whole­sale turnover in Arkan­sas where, if Rep. Tom Cot­ton (R) beats Sen. Mark Pry­or (D), all of the state’s six mem­bers (4 House, 2 Sen­ate) will have been elec­ted since 2010.

— Like Arkan­sas, West Vir­gin­ia is an­oth­er state in trans­ition away from Demo­crats that’s close to ba­sic­ally start­ing over on con­gres­sion­al seni­or­ity, es­pe­cially if Rep. Nick Ra­hall‘s (D) tough race in WV-03 ends in a loss. Mean­while, Hawaii went from 72 years of com­bined Sen­ate seni­or­ity in 2012 to zero in 2013 and has one first-term and one second-term House mem­ber.

Some states are feel­ing it more than oth­ers, but this trend is wide­spread. At this point, nearly 40% of the House and one-third of the Sen­ate was elec­ted in 2010 or later. With re­tire­ments, the House num­ber will climb to at least 45% in 2014 — and that’s be­fore factor­ing in primary and gen­er­al elec­tion losses. This is an era of ma­jor change in Con­gress.
— Scott Bland

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