Giroux’s Gem (from Oct. 13 podcast): 48
There are 48 U.S. senators in the current 116th Congress who previously served in the House of Representatives. The number of ex-House members in the Senate has hovered around half of the Senate membership for the past two decades after rising in the 1980s and 1990s, according to data compiled by the Senate Historical Office.
This club includes Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, the Senate president pro tempore; New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader who would be in line to become Majority Leader if Democrats win a majority on Nov. 3; and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, who was a House manager in Bill Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial in 1999 and is now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It’s a well-trod career path from the House to the Senate, which is sometimes called the “upper” chamber because the smaller bloc of 100 senators represents states and the 435 House members represent congressional districts with smaller constituencies. Rarely does someone go from the Senate to the House.
There were 53 senators with House experience in the 109th Congress (2005-06) and the 114th Congress (2015-16), according to Senate Historical Office data reaching back to the late 1970s. The 116th Congress began with 49 senators who formerly served in the House, though the number fell to the current 48 after Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson resigned at the end of 2019 and was succeeded by Kelly Loeffler, a first-time officeholder.
House members seeking Senate seats this year include Georgia Republican Doug Collins, who’s opposing Loeffler and other candidates in a Nov. 3 special election; Kansas Republican Roger Marshall, who’s in a close race with Democrat Barbara Bollier; and New Mexico Democrat Ben Ray Lujan, who’s a strong favorite to win his Senate race.
Rep. Bradley Byrne, an Alabama Republican, lost a Senate primary earlier this year. Rep. Joe Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, lost a primary challenge to Senator Ed Markey, who spent more than 36 years in the House before moving over to the Senate in 2013.
Senators Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, and Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, previously served in the House and aren’t seeking re-election this year. Roberts once represented the same western “Big First” Kansas district Marshall now holds, and Udall preceded Lujan in representing northern New Mexico’s 3rd District.
Senators with House experience who are in tough re-election campaigns include Graham, Arizona Republican Martha McSally, Colorado Republican Cory Gardner, Montana Republican Steve Daines, and Michigan Democrat Gary Peters. None of their challengers previously served in the House.
“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.