Back in January U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told WPRI.com one of the most important ways for a U.S. senator to be effective is basically out of his control: seniority.
If that’s the case, Whitehouse’s senior colleague Jack Reed is about to get significantly more effective.
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana on Tuesday became the sixth Senate Democrat to announce he will retire rather than seek re-election next year. All but one of those six lawmakers – New Jersey’s Frank Lautenberg – have served in the Senate longer than Reed, who was first elected in 1996.
The departures of those five – Baucus, Carl Levin, Tom Harkin, Jack Rockefeller and Tim Johnson – will vault Reed from 14th to 9th on the list of the U.S. Senate’s most senior Democrats. Of course, that assumes Reed himself will win re-election next year – about as safe an assumption as there is in politics.
• Related: Levin retirement sets up Jack Reed for powerful chairmanship (March 7)