How Many U.S. Senators Have Returned to the Senate After Defeat or Retirement?

History Q & A

Ms. Toner is a writer for the New York Times.

From the NYT, October 31, 2002:

Walter F. Mondale and Frank R. Lautenberg return to the Senate, they will join a surprisingly large class of senators interruptus.

Barry M. Goldwater did it, leaving the Senate for his 1964 presidential bid, returning in 1969. So did Hubert H. Humphrey and Alben Barkley, both former vice presidents who came back to the world's most exclusive club, and other Senate fixtures from Henry Cabot Lodge to James O. Eastland. In the 19th century, when senators were still elected by state legislatures, politicians routinely moved in and out of the Senate.

Even since 1913, when the direct election of senators began, 33 senators have served nonconsecutive terms, according to the Senate Historians Office. But if Mr. Mondale prevails, he will stand out in one respect — the length of time between terms, with his 26 years beating even Andrew Jackson's 25-year gap.

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john zwicky - 11/4/2002

Your article about people returning to the Senate brings to mind other politicians who have held office, been defeated, and later returned to office, either in that capacity or another. Besides, Senators who returned to the Senate, there have been Senators who came back as Congressmen such as Claude Pepper, who served in the House for a good many years. Even better examples are two former presidents, John Quincy Adams, who served 16 years in the House of Representatives after his defeat for the presidency, and Andrew Johnson, who was impeached, but later served in the Senate as Senator from Tennessee. If they can do the job, why shouldn't they serve? They certainly know the system better than some newcomer, who has to learn it. Chances are they'll also be more realistic about what can and should be done than some newcomer.

Bob Smith - 11/2/2002

I believe Mr. Toner is referring to Andrew Johnston, not Andrew Jackson. President Jackson never returned to the Senate