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Capital in the Capitol

The report did not include assets such as equity in pension plans, cash value of life insurance policies, home furnishings or jewelry.

Nonetheless, financially secure Members, even whose fortunes exceed the $1 million mark, shouldnt necessarily be viewed as anomalies, noted Norman Ornstein, an American Enterprise Institute scholar and co-author of Vital Statistics on Congress.

Keep in mind that youve got ... many Members who had professional lives for a significant period of time before they came to Congress, so for a lot of these people, for most of them, the buildup of their net worth and capital came earlier, said Ornstein, a Roll Call contributing writer.

You probably find not many middle-age professionals out there now lawyers, doctors, small-business people, brokers in their late 40s to mid-60s who dont have a net worth of somewhere around a million dollars or more.

While both Democrats and Republicans have a penchant for wealthy candidates who can self-fund their campaigns and alleviate fundraising pressures on the parties campaign committees, it is less clear whether the electorate values a candidates bottom line.

Its a great question because all politicians say they understand working Americans, and yet youve got liberal Democrats from Nevada who are millionaires and conservative Republicans who are millionaires, said Eric Herzik, chairman of the University of Nevadas Department of Political Science.

According to Roll Calls survey, every member of the Nevada House delegation Reps. Shelley Berkley (D), Dina Titus (D) and Dean Heller (R) claims a minimum wealth of at least $1.47 million. Sens. Harry Reid (D) and John Ensign (R) also both claim fortunes in the millions.

Delawares delegation claims the only other all-millionaire lineup: Rep. Mike Castles (R) net worth tallies at least $2.7 million, while Democratic Sens. Tom Carper and Ted Kaufman reported fortunes of $2.17 million and $7.97 million, respectively.

A candidate has to have a certain amount of education, a certain amount of success. The public expects that, Herzik added. Then you do ask the question of, But can they relate to people like me? Thats the art of politics.

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