Mormons in Congress 2012–Final Results

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.

  • Dean Heller (RNevada) 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).
  • 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).

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% ( “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 ( “Election ‘12: Results; for background on the Salmon race, see BCC: Mormons in Congress 2012 Part 4).

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).


  1. Kristine, thanks for this whole series.

  2. The last time I got this bad of a beating…it was by Steve Evans.

  3. Sadly, almost all of the above are GOPhers. And Chaffetz re-elected? When will they ever learn?

    (Bowing head, expecting a sh#tstorm to hit…)

  4. Chris, 24% is nothing to be ashamed of, especially in Wyoming. We’re all proud of you.

  5. Hopefully we will see a few more Democrats or an Independent/ unaffiliated Mormon candidate would be fabulous. I am glad for my fellow saints who will hopefully be part of the solution to our countries most immediate needs!

  6. A Nonny Mouse says:

    Bisexual nontheists are “Mormon” now?

    Attending BYU and having LDS family does not a Mormon make.

  7. One Mormon woman.

  8. Are you including Hermano Marco Rubio (R-Florida) in your accounting?

  9. nelliechung says:

    Why do we include Krysten Simena? She is an atheist and probably anti-.

    Mark Udall grew up Presbyterian, not Mormon.

    We might as well include Steve Martin and Lionel Richie.

  10. Tracy, thanks!

  11. Neither Steve Martin nor Lionel Richie is in Congress, as far as I know.

  12. Mark grew up culturally LDS he stated in an interview, but the senator from New Mexico is Tom Udall-not Mark. Krysten went to BYU and grew up Mormon. She seems rather positive regarding the church and says now that she does not identify as an atheist. She says she is not an atheist, but agrees with a secular approach to government. She is the first elected open bisexual.

  13. Sorry I have been out of the country for the last week and haven’t been able to keep up as closely with the blog as I would have liked.
    Deciding who is LDS and who is not LDS is not all that simple. In the April 2012 general conference the statistical report noted 14,441,346 members of the Church. That number does not include only those with temple recommends, those who attend Sacrament Meeting regularly, or those who live the Word of Wisdom. This number is “members of record” — those who have been baptized. If someone has been baptized and he/she has not been excommunicated or requested that her/his name be removed from Church records, that individual is counted a member by the Church. In the first article I did on Mormons in Congress, several pages were devoted to the issue of religious identification of Congressmen (Robert R. King and Kay Atkinson King, “Mormons in Congress 1850-2000,” Journal of Mormon History 26:2 [Fall 2000], pp. 1-50.)

    Members of Congress and elected political figures are frequently asked their religious affiliation, along with birthplace, marital status, profession, college degrees, etc. The best indicator of LDS membership that I have used is whether the individual considers him/herself to a member. The best sources are the two standard handbooks of Congressional biographies of sitting members of Congress – National Journal’s The Almanac of American Politics and Congressional Quarterly’s Politics in America. For the past three or more decades, both have published a new edition every even-numbered year. Every member of Congress, both House and Senate, has a biography, as well as a description of the congressional district or state they represent. Since members of congress understand the importance of these two handbooks and each member is asked for information, it is generally carefully vetted and taken seriously by members. Religious affiliation is always one of the data categories. Biographies in Wikipedia also provide information on religious affiliation, though Wiki is not always as accurate as the two handbooks for sitting members of Congress.

    Tom Udall (D-NM) considers himself a member. Mark Udall (D-CO) does not. [James (response #12) has his facts right; nelliechung (response #9) should note that I did count Tom Udall among LDS senators, but I did not include Mark Udall.] Mark’s father, Mo Udall, considered himself a Church member though he did not actively participate in Church activities for the last several decades of his life (See Mo Udall’s obituary in the New York Times.) He was assigned a home teacher, and I know some of those home teachers.

    Jim Gibbons, Member of Congress (R-NV 1997-2006) and Governor of Nevada (R 2007-2011) did not indicate he considered himself a Church member while he was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, but made a point of emphasizing his Church membership as governor of Nevada. He was involved in a widely reported allegation of sexual assault and other ethical lapses, but he is still identified as a Church member (See Wikipedia: “Jim Gibbons”).

    Marco Rubio was baptized a Church member, but identifies himself as Roman Catholic and refers to his first communion in 1984 after leaving the LDS Church (Christianity Today: “Marco Rubio on His Faith of Many Colors”). He may still have an LDS membership record on file (such records are not public so I don’t know), but kc, you should note that I did not include him in the list of Mormon members of Congress.

    Lionel Ritchie and Steve Martin aren’t Members of Congress, so whether they are LDS or not is not relevant to the discussion here [as madhousewife (response #11 rightly notes].

    I did include as LDS Krysten Sinema (Democratic congresswoman elect from Arizona’s 9th Congressional District) largely based on messages in response to earlier sections of this blog from Krysten Simena’s visiting teacher. The fact that a visiting teacher has been assigned to her would be a pretty good indication that local church officials in Phoenix consider her a member.

    I think there is risk in people deciding who is “worthy” or whose views are sufficiently orthodox to be counted as LDS and who is not. There seems to be some political and ideological bias here – if a person is less than fully active in the Church, but we agree with his political position, we number him/her among the Saints. If there is someone we don’t agree with politically, we are quick to question her/his status as LDS.

  14. There IS risk in people deciding who is a worthy member and who is not based on political views. After Obama winning re-election there are many Republican LDS members on various Mormon internet sites questioning how a member can be in good standing of the Church after voting for a Democrat and/or while belonging to the Democratic Party. They quote General Authorities and scripture to back their views on this issue. There is one, and I don’t remember the exact quote, but it says that as members we are to associate with those who believe what we do and associate with organizations who contribute to the moral fabric of society. Democrats do not contribute to the moral fabric of society because the Party Platform supports abortion and gay marriage so therefore members who vote for a Democrat or join the Democratic Party are unworthy to attend the Temple and are defying God and the Prophets and are bad members all around, according to a lot of Republican LDS members, even though these Democratic members have Temple recommends.
    According to this logic it is alright for them to judge and condemn other LDS members who hold opposing view points.

  15. Although they were all elected in 2010, this is still a good time to note the fascinating Mormon history
    trivia factoid that the Senate of the United States of America includes three descendants of John D. Lee
    (Mike Lee and the two Udalls).

  16. Yes, let me once again re-iterate, Kyrsten is not active. But nonetheless, mormon. She is not anti. I think we have to allow that there are many among our ranks who are cultural mormons, and at least on record, still mormon in that way as well. As her visiting teacher, and someone who voted for her, I’m super pleased that Kyrsten won.

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