Ted Stevens

Small States’ (One House Member And Two Senators) Influence In Congress Since 1945

There are seven states that have had only one member of the House of Representatives, along with two US Senators, in the past 70 years. but despite their small populations, these states have had a massive impact on American politics and history!  In addition, for the first few decades since 1945, Nevada also had one House member until growth caused two, and then, three seats in the House.

The seven states are Vermont, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska!

But North Dakota, South Dakota,and Montana had two members of the House until recent decades when reapportionment caused them to lose a second seat.

So only Vermont, Delaware, Wyoming, and Alaska (since 1959) stand alone as consistently having one House member and two Senators per state.

But look at their influence:

Vermont had George Aiken (R) (1941-1975) and has Patrick Leahy (D) for 41 years (1975 to Present) and counting now, and Bernie Sanders since 1990,  who  was the lone House member for 16 years before election to the Senate in 2006,making him the longest serving Independent in the history of both houses of Congress.  Also, Howard Dean, former Governor of the state, was a leading contender for the Democratic nomination in 2004, and then became head of the Democratic National Committee, and helped the rise of Barack Obama with a “50 state” strategy between 2004-2008.

Delaware had Joe Biden as Senator for six terms from 1973-2009, and now as Vice President.  He became one of the longest serving Senators of all time, and sought the Presidency in 1988 and 2008.

Wyoming had Dick Cheney as its lone Congressman for ten years from 1979-1989, before he ended up as Secretary of Defense under the first Bush Presidency, and Vice President in the second Bush Presidency.  Also, Alan Simpson served in the Senate from 1979-1997 as  a Republican, and Gale McGree from 1959-1977 as a Democrat.

Alaska had Ted Stevens in the Senate for 40 years from 1968 to 2009, the longest serving Republican Senator in American history.  Also, Sarah Palin , while Governor, was the Vice Presidential nominee for the Republicans in 2008.

And if one looks at the other states which had one Congressman at least for the last few decades, we have South Dakota and Senator George McGovern (1963-1981), the 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee; Montana, with Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D) (1953-1977) from 1961-1977; Nevada with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) (1987-Present) from 2007-2015; and North Dakota Senators Kent Conrad (1987-2013) and Bryan Dorgan (1992-2011).

So the “small” states have really had a major role in American politics, despite their small populations!

Longest Serving US Senators In American History, Six Terms And More!

25 United States Senators have served six terms or close to 36 years out of 1, 963 individuals who have served in the upper body of Congress.

17 0f these 25 served as Democrats, with 8 serving as Republicans.

11 come from the South, with 9 being Democrats, and only 2 being Republicans.

Longevity does not, necessarily, mean greatness in history, as many of the 25 are far from standouts in their years in the US Senate.

The most memorable in history would include Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Carl Levin, Richard Lugar and Claiborne Pell.

Others that would stand out for their long range influence would include Robert Byrd, Strom Thurmond, John Stennis, Richard Russell, Russell Long, and James Eastland, but all are seen as primarily negative forces holding back progress on civil rights.

Others with more positive significance but not seen as “stars” would include Daniel Inouye, Carl Hayden, Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch, and Warren Magnuson.

Others that are seen as noteworthy but not likely to be remembered much in the long run of  history would include Ted Stevens, Ernest Hollings, Thad Cochran, and Pete Domenici.

The remaining five are all forgettable Senators, dealing with their states’ constituent needs, but having little impact beyond that including Francis Warren, Kenneth McKellar, Milton Young, Ellison Smith, and Allen Ellender.

Also, three from the list of 25 are from Mississippi (Stennis, Eastland, Cochran); three from South Carolina (Thurmond, Hollings, Smith); and two from Louisiana (Long, Ellender).

Additionally, states with small populations and only one Congressman, have Senators on the list, including Vermont (Leahy); Alaska (Stevens); Wyoming (Warren); Delaware (Biden); and North Dakota (Young).

Only two “larger” populated states have a Senator on the list, including Massachusetts (Kennedy) and Michigan (Levin)

Finally, only 8 Senators have served 40 or more years, in order as follows: Robert Byrd, Daniel Inouye, Strom Thurmond, Ted Kennedy, Carl Hayden, John Stennis, Patrick Leahy (still serving), and Ted Stevens, with only Byrd serving more than 50 years!

The Contradiction Of Joe Miller: The “Anti Ted Stevens” For Alaska!

Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska served longer in the upper chamber than any Republican Senator in history, and when he died last month in a plane accident, he was deeply mourned by most Alaskans as the man who had done more for Alaska than any other political figure in its half century history as a state!

Alaska was the beneficiary of more federal largesse (money and public works projects) than any other state, and Alaska then and now desperately needed such funding, as it is a state which even today has very few roads and bridges and other public projects, making travel and access through much of the state extremely difficult!

Juneau, the capital in southeast Alaska, cannot be reached by land, for instance, and much of the state is isolated and poor! So Stevens was good for Alaska, but so were Senator Frank Murkowski and his daughter, Senator Lisa Murkowski, who recently lost a close renomination contest to Joe Miller!

Of course, Sarah Palin was a critic of all of these political figures, but never did anything to deal with the realities of backwardness and poverty in much of Alaska in her BRIEF time in public office! She, however, has been very effective in improving her own economic conditions, while advocating the nomination of Joe Miller, a person who shares her vision of a “new” Alaska without federal intervention! 🙁

Joe Miller portrays himself as the opponent of federal largesse, of “earmarks”, and therefore is the “anti Ted Stevens”! He was able to defeat Lisa Murkowski by a razor thin margin on this basis!

It is amazing how in one month, Alaskans can mourn “Uncle Ted”, who brought his state so many benefits by doing what all members of Congress are expected to do, make life better for their constituents; and then have the dominant party in the state reject that approach and nominate a Tea Party favorite, who defies the history of the American political system!

If Alaska does indeed proceed to elect Joe Miller over Democratic opponent Scott McAdams, will they have “buyer’s remorse”, when they realize they are putting into a position of power an individual who has no interest in benefiting the state, modernizing it, bringing it into the future, but would rather quote the Founding Fathers in a narrow, restrictive manner, evoking the states rights argument of the Civil War Era of the 19th century in the 21st century?

Joe Miller, like most conservatives and Republicans, distorts the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, failing to understand that the document they created was purposely left vague and broad, as they could not possibly predict the long term future, and so left it open to modern interpretation by Congress and the courts!

The Founding Fathers did not intend a “strait jacket” Constitution, but if Joe Miller in office follows it in that manner, Alaska will suffer, and remain a backward state without a modern public works system and large levels of poverty! Somehow, the feeling arises that Joe Miller would end up contradicting himself once in office, and therefore would have to be seen as a hypocrite who exploited the general discontent that exists, with rhetoric that is false and manipulative! 🙁

The Love-Hate Affair With The Federal Government: Alaska As An Example Of Contradictions!

The fact that Joe Miller, the Sarah Palin backed challenger to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, leads by about 1,700 votes as the absentee and mail votes are being counted, is a stunning development to many political observers!

This surprising development comes just a short couple of weeks after the tragic death of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who served almost 40 years, and became famous for the “earmarks” and “pork” he could bring back to Alaska!

There was deep mourning for Stevens, and Lisa Murkowski had his backing, and she and her father, Frank Murkowski, who was a long term Senator before she replaced him, have also been acknowledged for gaining political favors, to such an extent that Alaska received more economic support from the federal government than any other state over the past few decades, as compared to taxes paid to the government!

Alaska benefited from both Stevens and the two Murkowskis in office, but Joe Miller campaigned AGAINST federal largesse, as if it was an evil, and Sarah Palln, after promtoting it as a short term Governor of the state, suddenly has switched sides, even though she well knows that her state has gained greatly from past funding coming out of the hides of other states, which did not gain such an advantage as Stevens and the Murkowskis were able to accomplish!

What an hypocrisy by both Palin and Miller, and does Miller really believe that if he is elected to the Senate, and does not pursue “earmarks” and “pork”, that he will be reelected in 2016?

The demagoguery of Sarah Palin and Joe Miller is obvious, and it makes one wonder how Alaskans think! Does lack of sunlight cause a deadening of the brain and common sense? 🙁

The Connection Of Charlie Rangel, Dan Rostenkowski And Ted Stevens! :(

Three veterans of Congress have been in the news in the past two days, none of them in a happy situation! 🙁

First, former Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens died in a plane crash at the age of 86! After 40 years in the Senate, he was convicted of corruption charges, although later the conviction was reversed, and the Justice Department decided to drop the charges, but only after Stevens had lost his Senate reelection contest. Stevens, the longest serving GOP Senator in history, left office under a cloud! 🙁

Then, New York Congressman Charlie Rangel mounted an awkward defense of himself in the House of Representatives yesterday, interrupting a vote on funding of teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public servants, by a party line vote. His defense was an embarrassment, and made many fellow Democrats angry and frustrated, as his upcoming ethics trial will certainly hurt the image of the Democratic party, but Rangel, age 80 and 40 years in the House, made it clear that he was not going to disappear and admit any wrongdoing or resign, therefore burdening his party at a time when there are thirteen charges against him, and the tone of corruption is clear and evident. Rangel has given up his leadership of the Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful committee in the House, but his refusal to admit any wrongdoing is a sad likely ending to a career which will probably hurt his party! 🙁

Now today, former Democratic Congressman Dan Rostenkowski of Chicago, Illinois, who served 36 years in the House from 1959-1995, and was for 16 years Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, passed away at the age of 82.
He had been convicted and sentenced to prison for corruption after losing his seat in the 1994 Republican wave into power, which was helped by the controversy over Rostenkowski’s corrupt leadership. Bill Clinton later pardoned him, but still the corruption and conviction and imprisonment are part of the historical record! 🙁

So Stevens, Rostenkowski and now Rangel all had a lot in common: long term service in Congress, leaving Congress at advanced ages, all becoming involved in corruption that sullied their reputations, but all having made major contributions to the Congress before going over to the “evil” side!

All three can be seen as sad commentaries on the problem of longevity in public office! People can come to Congress with great idealism and decent motivations, but somehow longevity and gaining of powerful positions over time seems to lead to temptations and greed, part of the human condition! 🙁

While there is no way to enforce term limits, there is a growing argument for turnover and change so as to prevent temptation and greed taking over! No constitutional amendment is possible, but it becomes clear that the American people must take responsibility for promoting turnover so that power does not continue to lie in the hands of older, overly arrogant legislators!

Should anyone be the head of a committee in Congress for endless number of years? NO!

Should members of Congress serve more than the 30 years that marks most people’s careers in one employment position before retirement? NO!

It is up to us, the people, to enforce these changes, and argue that seniority and longevity have their limits, by their close attention to politics, and their votes! 🙁

Sad News: Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens Dead In Small Plane Crash! :(

Former Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, the longest serving Republican Senator in US History with 39 years in office (1969-2009), was killed last night in a small plane crash in a remote area of his home state! 🙁

Stevens was President Pro Tempore of the Senate when his party controlled the Congress from 2003-2007, and was the seventh longest serving member of the Senate in its history!

While the center of controversy over a corruption trial, where he was found not guilty in 2008, and infamous for earmarks, particularly the “Bridge To Nowhere” in Alaska, Stevens had a major impact on the 49th State, and will be mourned greatly by his state’s citizens!

Stevens was 86 years old when he was killed, and just by his longevity, will stand out in Senate history!

This is just the latest of tragic small plane crashes, including the one that killed Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana, the father of Cokie Roberts of ABC News, who must be having an unpleasant reminder of the disappearance of her father in 1971 in Alaska! At least, Stevens’ body will be available for burial, which is some solace!

Other small plane crashes have claimed the lives of other senators, including H. J. Heinz of Pennsylvania, John Tower of Texas, and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota! Also, John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife and sister in law were killed in a small plane crash!

It makes one wonder why anyone is willing to fly in a small plane with only one engine, although the author has to admit that in the distant past, he did the same thing, and while up in flight, wondered why he was doing it! LOL

In any case, this is a time to mourn a man, who while being controversial, and often described as nasty and arrogant at times, deserves our respect for his long career, at this time of his tragic passing! 🙁