Alaska editorial: Stevens should be admired for his longevity

Posted: Friday, November 24, 2006

This editorial appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

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Sen. Ted Stevens' announcement that he would seek re-election in 2008 probably didn't surprise too many people. Oh, sure, there was speculation here and there that Alaska's 80-something senator wouldn't desire another six-year term.

No, the senator's decision shouldn't have surprised many. He has, remember, often been referred to as "senator for life."

Whatever people think of Sen. Stevens, and the views do differ on occasion, the accomplishment he will reach in the Senate in the coming months deserves acknowledgment and appreciation from those of all political persuasions for the sheer human aspect of it.

Sen. Stevens, who was appointed to the Senate in 1968, will be quickly moving up the Top 10 list of the nation's longest serving senators - as in longest serving ever.

Congressional Quarterly, the nonpartisan news organization covering Capitol Hill, noted in an article on Sen. Stevens' re-election announcement that the senator is the 10th longest serving senator in the nation's history.

"By next April, Stevens will have served in the Senate as a Republican longer than any other senator, surpassing South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond (1954-56, 1956-2003), who had a longer overall tenure but initially was a Democrat before switching to the GOP in 1964."

West Virginia Democrat Robert C. Byrd is the longest serving senator in history, winning a record ninth term this month, in which he turns 89. He took office on Jan. 3, 1959.

Senate records show the rest of the Top 10 as follows:

Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., 47 years, 5.2 months; 3. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., Nov. 7, 1962 to present; 4. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, Jan. 3, 1963 to present; 5. Carl T. Hayden, D-Ariz., 41 years, 10.1 months; 6. John C. Stennis, D-Miss., 41 years, two months; 7. Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C., 38 years, 1.8 months; 8. Richard B. Russell, D-Ga., 38 years; 9. Russell B. Long, D-La., 38 years; 10. Theodore F. Stevens, R-Alaska, Dec. 24, 1968 to present.

Say what you will, but enduring and enjoying one's work for that length of time is admirable - be it by a senator, the guy who runs a little corner shop, a teacher, or whoever.

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