They Were Members, Too
We know there have been dozens of Members of Congress who have run for the presidency in the past 44 years, only to fall just short — or way short, in some instances — of their parties’ nominations or the White House. But with President’s Day right around the corner — and with Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) looking more and more like the Democratic nominee with each passing primary — Roll Call decided to take a look at all of the Members who have made it to the Oval Office. Twenty-four of the 43 commanders in chief called Congress home, either before or after their presidencies.
Elected president 1808
Elected president 1816
In Monroe’s second race, he received all but one electoral votes, preserving George Washington’s honor of being the only unanimously elected president.
John Quincy Adams
Senate, 1803-08; House, 1831-48
Elected president 1824
Elected by the House after no candidate received a majority of electoral votes (Adams was second in electoral votes to Andrew Jackson).
House, 1796-97; Senate 1797-98, 1823-25
Elected president as a Democrat in 1828
Martin Van Buren
Elected president 1836
Lost re-election bid amid a depression, failed to win nomination in 1844, switched parties and lost bid in 1848.
William Henry Harrison
House, 1799-1800 (Delegate from Northwest Territory), 1816-19 (Ohio); Senate, 1825-28
Elected president 1840
Died 31 days after inauguration.
House, 1817-21; Senate 1827-36; Succeeded to presidency in 1841
Became president at Harrison’s death and did not seek re-election.
Elected president 1844
Received no votes during first eight ballots of nomination contest but won on the ninth ballot; did not seek re-election.
House, 1833-35, 1837-43
Succeeded to presidency in 1850 when Zachary Taylor died.
Lost bid for nomination in 1852.
House, 1833-37; Senate, 1837-42
Elected president 1852
Won nomination on 49th ballot; lost bid for nomination in 1856.
House, 1821-31; Senate, 1834-45
Elected president 1856
Did not seek re-election.
Elected president as a Republican in 1860
Won 22 of 25 states in 1864, when 11 Confederate states did not vote.
House, 1843-53; Senate, 1857-62, 1875
Succeeded to presidency in 1865
Became president after Lincoln’s assassination; impeached but acquitted; lost bid for nomination in 1868, for Senate in 1869 and House in 1872; elected to Senate in 1875.
Rutherford B. Hayes
Elected president 1876
Defeated Samuel Tilden in a disputed election after a Congressionally appointed commission selected Hayes in return for his decision to end carpetbag rule in the South; soundly defeated in bid for re-nomination in 1880.
Elected president 1880
Received no votes in first round of nominating contest, one in the 21st, 50 in the 35th, and won with 399 in the 36th; assassinated in 1881.
Elected president 1888
Lost popular vote to Grover Cleveland by 100,000 ballots but won electoral vote 233-168; lost re-election contest to Cleveland.
House, 1877-84, 1885-91
Elected president in 1896
Assassinated in 1901.
Warren G. Harding
Died in 1923 in office.
Succeeded to presidency in 1945
Ascended upon Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death.
John F. Kennedy
House, 1947-53; Senate, 1953-60
Elected president 1960
Assassinated in 1963.
Lyndon B. Johnson
House, 1937-49; Senate, 1949-61
Succeeded to presidency in 1963
Became president after Kennedy’s assassination; re-elected in 1964 but did not seek re-election in 1968.
House, 1947-50; Senate, 1950-53
Elected president in 1968
Re-elected in 1972
Resigned in 1974 in anticipation of impeachment.
Succeeded to the presidency in 1974
Became president after Nixon’s resignation and then pardoned him; lost bid for full term in 1976 to Jimmy Carter.
George H.W. Bush
Elected president 1988
First sitting vice president to be elected president since Martin Van Buren in 1836; lost re-election bid to Bill Clinton.
Source: Staff research