In this contentious primary season, many senior Capitol Hill denizens have stayed out of endorsing one of the five candidates left in the race for the two major party nominations. But both Kasich and Sanders, compared to their competitors, have the most tenured groups of lawmakers backing them, according to endorsement data compiled by Roll Call .
On the Republican side, Kasich’s supporters have 13.5 average tenured years in Congress. Among the 10 members who have endorsed him — eight in the House and two in the Senate — Alaska Rep. Don Young, who’s been in Congress since 1973, is the longest serving Republican in the House. Only one freshman of the 114th Congress, Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop, endorsed the Ohio governor.
Perhaps one reason Kasich has nabbed these elders is because they know him personally. He was in the House from 1983-2001, finishing his congressional career as chairman of the Budget Committee.
“Out of the three still in the race for president, John is my guy,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., in a statement supporting the Ohio governor . “You learn a lot about a person when you attend a Bible study together, so I can tell you personally that he is a man of his word.” Inhofe was elected to Congress in 1994.
After Young, the second- and third longest-serving Republican members who have endorsed a candidate did not support Kasich, however. Texas Reps. Joe L. Barton and Sam Johnson, who have been in Congress a combined 60 years, both sided with Ted Cruz.
Still, they’re not enough to bring up the average tenure of Cruz’s supporters, which is five years shorter than Kasich’s. Seven of Cruz’s 35 endorsements are from first-term members in the House, and another seven are in their second term.
The average tenure of Donald Trump’s eight congressional supporters is about six years shorter than Kasich’s, and is the lowest of all presidential candidates still in the race.
The most senior Republican senator, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, endorsed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio, but has not publicly supported any of the three candidates left in the GOP race.
On the Democratic side, the vast majority of members of Congress have endorsed Hillary Clinton. While Sanders has only nine congressional endorsements to Clinton’s roughly 200, he has reined in two members with 20-plus years of experience: Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota.
The average tenures of Clinton and Sanders’ supporters are roughly equal. Clinton’s supporters skew slightly more junior, mostly because of the large number of congressional newbies supporting her. Sixty-one of Clinton’s supporters have been in Congress four years or less.
But Clinton also has a hold on the eldest members of the party who have endorsed someone, including Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr., the longest serving lawmaker in Congress. The most senior Democratic senator, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, also endorsed Clinton.
There are some holdouts on the Democratic side as well, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.