While many members of the freshmen congressional class sworn today are new to Washington, they bring plenty of experience – political and otherwise – to Capitol Hill.
Ten of the 12 freshmen senators – including former governors Angus King of Maine and Tim Kaine of Virginia, five former congressmen and former White House adviser Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – are over 50.
The average age in the Senate, in fact, is now 61. The average age in the House of Representatives is 57.
Among House newcomers, two California Democrats are the oldest: Alan Lowenthal and Gloria Negrete McLeod, both 71. (Negrete McLeod has 10 children, 27 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren, according to National Journal, which has published an online tool that allows you to sort the freshman class by age and other demographics.)
Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), 61, is surely one of the most colorful. He’s a former schoolteacher, veteran of three wars and Santa-for-hire (that’s him, dressed for the job, to the right) who raises reindeer on his family farm. “If somebody calls you crazy, you’re on to something,” he told National Review (which christened him “Congressman Claus”). “… I guess that’s why it didn’t really bother me when people were saying, ‘That guy’s kooky because he has reindeer.’ No, they’re kooky because they don’t have ’em.”
Politico dubbbed dubbed 57-year-old Florida Republican Ted Yoho most likely to be a cable television favorite. It noted that Yoho is a veterinarian and tea party favorite who “won his primary, in part, thanks to an ad featuring politicians mud-wrestling with pigs.”
So the newcomers can handle pigs, reindeer and grandchildren. Now how about the federal budget deficit?