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Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Although the Capitol complex is often crawling with tourists, it’s not known for pest problems. But that didn’t stop Abe Schumer, who ran an exterminating business for 32 years, from pointing out a cockroach when he visited his son’s Capitol Hill office in the 1980s.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
The South Carolina Republican rarely leans left when it comes to politics — and he doesn’t seem to have been cursed with two left feet, either. After she divorced her husband, DeMint’s mom, Betty, started her own business. She ran the DeMint Academy of Dance and Decorum out of the family home, and when a student needed a partner, young Jim lent a hand.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)
Joe Franken took over a quilting factory in Albert Lea when the Minnesota Democrat was young. Two years later, the factory failed and the family moved on to the Twin Cities. Ever the comedian, Franken explains in his bio that he later asked his dad why his grandpa had chosen Albert Lea.
“He said, ‘Well, your grandfather wanted to open a factory in the Midwest, and the railroad went through Albert Lea,’” Franken writes on the page. “So, I asked him, ‘Why did the factory fail?’ And he said, ‘Well, it went through Albert Lea, but it wouldn’t stop.’”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA.)
The Georgia Republican might have ended up in politics, but once upon a time, he dreamed of becoming a baseball star. His ambitions might have had something to do with one of his father’s odd jobs; when young Saxby was 5, his father was the announcer for the Rock Hill Chicks, a minor league baseball club in North Carolina. The younger Chambliss later played second base at the University of Georgia.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
They might not have been old enough to imbibe, but this trio of lawmakers grew up around alcohol. Millie and Florence Graham ran a local pool hall, the Sanitary Cafe, in central South Carolina. Lieberman’s father built up his own liquor business until he had enough money to buy a house for his young family. And while Mario Rubio, father of the Florida Republican, might not have owned the store himself, he did work as a bartender at hotels in Las Vegas.
Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)
The fathers of Lautenberg and Kirk had more than one interesting job. Lautenberg’s father, Sam, worked in silk mills, sold coal, farmed and ran a tavern. Kirk’s father, Frank, was described by a local newspaper as a “pilot, pig farmer, computer designer, sculptor, author and Army and Navy veteran.”
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)
The Maryland Democrat grew up across the street from her father William’s grocery store, Willy’s Market. He would often open his store early so local steelworkers could buy lunch before the morning shift, and his daughter credits him with instilling in her the values of hard work and neighborliness.