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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Majority, Minority, Markey

Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) won his first House election in 1976. Of returning members of his party, only John Dingell (MI), John Conyers (MI), Charles Rangel (NY), George Miller (CA) and Henry Waxman (CA) have served longer.  But now that President Obama has nominated Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to be secretary of state, Markey will run in a special election to succeed him.  In other words, he wants to give up being the sixth most senior House Democrat in order to become the least-senior Senate Democrat.

There are two reasons why this decision makes sense.

First is the prestige difference between the two chambers.  House members often run for the Senate, but contemporary senators never voluntarily give up their seats to run for the House.

Second is the difference between majority and minority status.  As a member of the minority party in the majoritarian House, Markey faces daily frustration.  One may gather that he does not expect his party to regain the majority anytime soon.  In the Senate, his party is in the majority.  If it can avoid serious losses in the 2014 midterm, it will probably retain the majority for quite a while.