The last of this series from Kay Atkinson King–many, many thanks to her for this excellent and informative series. It has definitely upped the information : uninformed blathering quotient around BCC!
Final Result: Mormons in Congress Reach New High
We will not have a Mormon President of the United States in 2013, but when the Congress convenes on January 3 the largest number of Latter-day Saints ever to serve in the U. S. Congress will take their seats. Seven of the one hundred members of the United States Senate and ten of the 440 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives will be Church members. At the end of the current Congress, there were six Senators and nine Representatives.
In percentage terms, 7% of the Senate and 3% of the House will be Latter-day Saints, while the percentage of Mormons in the country as a whole is just less than 2%. (The Pew Forum Study of Mormons in America reports that “slightly less than 2% of the U.S. adult population identifies as Mormon.” Church numbers indicate about the same proportion.)
Three Latter-day Saints were on the ballot for seats in the U.S. Senate on November 6 and all three were elected – two incumbents were reelected, and one Latter-day Saint won an open seat. Four LDS senators currently serving were not up for reelection this year. Three new representatives who are Church members were elected to the House of Representatives, and all seven incumbent Mormons who were running for re-election were reelected.
The partisan breakdown of the thirteen Senators and Representatives elected is heavily weighted on the Republican side of the scale. All three Mormon Senators elected this year were Republican, and of the seven Senators who are Church members, five are Republican and only two are Democrats. Of the ten LDS Representatives elected seven are Republican and three are Democrats.
LDS Senate Candidates
The two incumbent Church members who were running for the Senate this year were both reelected.
- Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)was reelected by a vote of 65% to 30% for his LDS opponent, Scott Howell (CNN Election Results: Utah; for background on the Hatch Senate race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 6).
- Dean Heller (R-Nevada) was reelected to the Nevada Senate seat to which he was appointed 18 months ago when former Senator John Ensign resigned. Heller was not supported by LDS Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who endorsed and strongly supported his non-Mormon opponent. Heller won with 46% of the vote to 45% for his Democratic opponent, with a margin of just over 12,000 votes out of a total of 900,808 ballots cast (CNN Election Results: Nevada; for background on the Heller Senate race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 5).
One Latter-day Saint is a newly elected United States Senator:
- Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), who is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (2000-present), won his race for Senate, defeating his Democratic opponent by a margin of 50% of the vote to 45%. The race was probably closer and more difficult for Flake than it might have been because of a very contentious Republican primary in which Flake was opposed by another Church member who had been in Flake’s Mesa, Arizona, Ward and who spent some $6½ million of his own resources running a negative primary campaign against Flake (CNN Election Results: Arizona; for background on the Flake race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 2 and BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 4).
The four LDS Senators who were not on the ballot this year and who continue to serve in the U.S. Senate are:
- Harry Reid (D-Nevada) – took office January 3, 1987, and next up for election in 2016. Currently Senate Majority Leader, the highest ranking government leadership position ever held by an LDS Member of Congress.
- Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) – took office January 3, 1999, and next up for election in 2016.
- Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) – took office January 3, 2009, and next up for election in 2014.
- Mike Lee (R-Utah) – took office January 3, 2011, and next up for election in 2016.
LDS House Candidates
Seven incumbent LDS House members were reelected on November 6:
- Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), who first took office January 3, 1989, was successful in his reelection bid. (The results are not available on line, but I spoke with Faleomavaega’s Washington office and confirmed his success at the polls. For background on the Faleomavaega race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 7).
- Buck McKeon (R-California), who took office January 3, 1993, won reelection with 55% of the vote to 45% for his opponent (California Election Results – Congressional District 25; for background on the McKeon race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 7). He is expected to continue as Chair of the House Armed Services Committee.
- Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who first took office January 3, 1999, won reelection with 65% of the vote to 35% for his opponent in Idaho’s 2nd District including the southeastern part of the state (Idaho State-wide Election Results; for background on the Simpson race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 8).
- Jim Matheson (D-Utah),who took office January 3, 2001, ran for reelection this year in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. It was another uphill race for Matheson, but against serious odds he squeaked out a narrow win, beating Mia Love (“who had emerged as a gold-plated national star”) by 49.3% to 48.1%. This was one of the most hotly contested and closely watched races in the country. The result was identified by Politico, a leading Washington political journal, as one of the five biggest House race surprises of this election cycle (Politico: “The 5 biggest House race surprises”; for background on the Mathson-Love contest, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 10). The Deseret News described the race in these terms: “Like a magician freeing himself from a box filling with water, Rep. Jim Matheson escaped with his political life once again Tuesday to earn a seventh term in Congress. The Democratic congressman claimed victory shortly after midnight in a hard-fought victory over Republican Mia Love after trailing in the polls going into Election Day . . . . After a seesaw battle all night long, Matheson bested Love 49.3 percent to 48.1 percent, a 2,818-vote gap, according to unofficial results” (Deseret News: “Jim Matheson claims victory over Mia Love in very close 4th District race).
- Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who took office January 3, 2003, defeated his Democratic challenger by 71% to 25% in the 1st District including Ogden, Logan and northern Utah (Deseret News: “Republicans sweep three House races in Utah; for background on the Bishop contest, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 9).
- Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who took office January 3, 2009, handily defeated his Democratic opponent by 76% to 24% in the 3rd District including Sandy, Provo, Orem and southeastern Utah (Deseret News: “Republicans sweep three House races in Utah; for background on the Chaffetz contest, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 9).
- Rául Labrador (R-Idaho), who took office January 3, 2011, won reelection with 63% of the vote to 31% for his opponent in Idaho’s 1st District including Boise and the northern part of the state (Idaho State-wide Election Results; for backgrouind on the Labrador race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 8).
The three new House members who will be sworn in as Representatives in January include two Church members representing Congressional districts in Arizona, giving that state an LDS Senator and two LDS Representatives. The third House newcomer is the representative who won an open seat in Utah since that state went from three to four representatives. All four Utah Congressmen (they are all men) and its two Senators are Church members.
- Matt Salmon, former Congressman (R-Arizona, 1995-2001), was elected to the House of Representatives for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District, which includes a good deal of the territory he represented twelve years ago when he served in Congress including parts of Mesa and Chandler. After winning the Republican primary against an LDS state representative, Salmon handily defeated his Democratic opponent 67% to 33% (AZCentral.com “Election ‘12: Results; for background on the Salmon race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 3 and BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 4).
- Krysten Sinema, Arizona state legislator and the only Democrat among newly elected LDS Members of Congress, was elected to the House of Representatives for Arizona’s 9th Congressional District, which includes the city of Tempe as well as parts of Phoenix, Mesa and Chandler. In a district that was very evenly balanced, she defeated her Republican opponent by a narrow 47.6% to 46.0%, a margin of 2,715 votes (AZCentral.com “Election ‘12: Results; for background on the Salmon race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 4).
- Chris Stewart, a former Air Force pilot who received a strong endorsement from Glen Beck, won the general election against his Democratic opponent by a margin of 62% to 34% (Deseret News: “Republicans sweep three House races in Utah; for background on the Stewart contest, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 9).
Two current House members did not run for reelection to the House: Wally Herger (R-California), who took office January 3, 1987, is retiring from Congress (for background on Representative Herger, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012); Jeff Flake (R-Arizona, 2001-present), who took his House seat January 3, 2001, ran successfully for the open Arizona U.S. Senate seat.
A number of Latter-day Saints were unsuccessful candidates in the general election. In Utah the unsuccessful Senate candidate who ran against Orrin Hatch, as well as three of the four unsuccessful House candidates, were Church Members. Scott Howells ran against Orrin Hatch in Utah’s senate contest (see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 6). The three Mormons who were unsuccessful candidates in Utah’s House contests were: Jay Seegmiller, Democrat who ran against Chris Stewart in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District (Downtown Salt Lake City, Davis County, and St. George), and Soren Simonsen, who ran against Jason Chaffetz in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District (Sandy, Provo, Orem, and southeastern Utah), also a Democrat (for background on these two candidates, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 9.) Mia Love, the high profile Black Republican candidate who received considerable national media attention, ran a strong campaign for Utah’s 4th Congressional District against incumbent Scott Matheson and lost by a single percentage point (for background on the Mathson-Love contest, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 10). Mormon Democrat Chris Henrichsen was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate in the race for Wyoming’s at-large House seat (see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 8). He lost the race with 24% of the vote against the incumbent Republican’s 69% (CNN: 2012 Election Results).