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You know the most important Senators, the ones who are always in the news, make fiery speeches, make big mistakes, or fight for a cause.  Kennedy, Reid, Biden, Frist, Lott, Lugar, Durbin, Clinton, McCain...  In all, there are probably only 25 Senators that most of us know about.  We all know the most important Democrats and the ones that really fight for us, but there are so many others who we barely know anything about, despite their important work for us.  And we all know the worst of the Republicans, who attack us in the news and on the Senate floor.  But there are many other Republican senators that are important to know about.  There are only 100 Senators who each have enormous influence over the legislation passed by Congress.  Thus, it is not enough to know about the Senators from your state, it is important that we know about all of them.

To this end, I am starting a series of Senator Profiles this summer.  Every (or at least most) weekday, I will write brief profiles of two Senators.  Brief biography, Committees, Key legislation and stances on issues...  My goal is that by the end of the series anyone who reads it will have a basic knowledge of every Senator.  To make this more manageable, I am starting with the 28 Senators who will be running for re-election in 2006 (5 Senators up for re-election are retiring).  Each day I will be featuring one Dem and one Repub, one of whom will be a mostly unknown Senator, while the other will be relatively known (at least to the liberal blogosphere).  Below are the first two profiles: Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Herb Kohl (D-WI).  You can see more profiles, as well as tons of other Senate news, on my blog, OurSenate.

Coming tomorrow: Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Craig Thomas (R-WY).

(Here's an interesting exercise: Without looking at any references, including maps, make a list of as many current Senators as you can.  Since only two of them campaign in your home state, you've probably heard of the others only through the media.  Can you name 30?  50?  Obviously, a map makes this much easier, but don't use one.  If I really sit down and think for a while, I can come up with 80-90.  However, I write a blog that focuses entirely on the Senate.)

Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican from Maine

Elected: 1994 - 2nd Term

Age: 58

Religion: Greek Orthodox

Education: U. of Maine

Biography:  Orphaned at the age of 9, Snowe was raised by an aunt and uncle in Auburn Maine.  She was elected to the Maine House after the death of her first husband, state Rep. Peter Snowe in 1973.  Snowe was elected to the House in 1978 after six years in the Maine House and Senate.  Her second husband, John R. McKernan Jr., is a former congressman and governor of Maine.

After the retirement of Sen. George Mitchell (D) in 1994, Snowe ran for the Senate, to which she was elected with 60% of the vote. She was the only moderate Republican elected to the Senate in the "Republican Revolution"; in 1994.  She was re-elected in 2000 with 69%.

Senate:  Snowe is one of the few centrist moderate Republicans left in Congress.  However, she is extremely influential, and is willing to work with both parties to achieve her legislative goals. She is socially moderate and pro-choice, but generally fiscally conservative.  Snowe opposed drilling for oil in Alaska, and attempted to defeat the partial-birth abortion ban.  Snowe co-chairs the Centrist Coalition with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D). She was also a member of the Gang of 14 which averted the nuclear option. Snowe sits on the Finance, Select Intelligence, and Commerce, Science & Transportation Committees, and chairs the Small Business & Entrepreneur Committee. Congressional Quarterly gives her a 74% Party Unity Rating, the second lowest of all Republican senators.

The Future:  Snowe is going to run for re-election in 2006.  Due to her extremely high popularity (the latest SUSA poll has her approval at 71-21%), she is unlikely to face a tough opponent.  Rep. Tom Allen (D) is rumored to be interested in challenging her, but it is more likely that he will wait to challenge Sen. Susan Collins in 2008.

Source:  CQ's Politics in America, 2006

------

Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat from Wisconsin

Elected: 1988 - 3rd Term

Age: 70

Religion: Jewish

Education: U. of Wisconsin, Harvard (M.B.A.)

Biography:  Born to immigrant parents in 1935, Kohl built and developed the department store chain Kohl's with his brothers.  The sale of the chain in 1979 left Kohl with an estimated wealth of $111 million, which he has used to finance his Senate campaigns.  Kohl purchased the Milwaukee Bucks in 1985 to keep the team in Wisconsin, and funds several charitable organizations, including the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation, which gives scholarships to high school students and fellowships to educators.

Kohl was first elected to the Senate in 1988 after the retirement of Sen. William Proxmire (D).  He largely self-funded his campaign, and won with 52% of the vote.  He was re-elected in 1994 with 58%, and in 2000 with 61.5%, self-funding his campaigns both times.  As a result of self-funding his campaigns, he proudly uses the slogan "nobody's senator but yours" to declare his independence from special interest groups.

Senate:  Kohl is a moderate democrat.  He is know to cross party lines on economic legislation including tax cuts and corporate tax reform.  However, he is also a strong supporter of traditional liberal values, including health care, child care, and education.  Kohl is generally socially liberal, and voted against amending the Constitution to prohibit gay marriage.  Kohl is also a strong supporter of gun control, in particular the assault weapon ban.  Kohl has a 94% Party Unity rating, as determined by Congressional Quarterly.  Kohl sits on the Judiciary Committee, the Appropriations Committee, and the Special Committee on Aging, where he is the ranking member.  He is also the ranking member on the Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee of Appropriations, and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the Judiciary Committee.

The Future:  Kohl has indicated that he will be running for re-election in 2006, but he has not yet formally declared his candidacy.  Assuming he runs again, he is very likely to be re-elected.  Kohl has a 53-34% approval-disapproval rating in the latest SUSA poll.  It is possible that Kohl will run unopposed, or with only token opposition, in 2006.

Source: CQ's Politics in America, 2006

Visit OurSenate for more profiles and 2006 Senate election news.

Originally posted to maxpalmer on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 12:38 PM PDT.

Poll

How Many Senators Can You Name?

8%6 votes
17%13 votes
21%16 votes
16%12 votes
16%12 votes
19%14 votes

| 73 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I can get in the nineties (none)
    Then again, I worked for a Senate campaign last summer, and had C-SPAN Deuce on all the time.

    "Any content-based regulation of the Internet, no matter how benign the purpose, could burn the global village to roast the pig." -- ACLU v Reno (E.D. Pa. 1996)

    by Adam B on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 12:36:35 PM PDT

  •  Ecellent idea (none)
    I am looking forward to reading more.  Thanks!

    Random and arbitrary. hoo-ah.

    by jules too on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 12:38:28 PM PDT

    •  thanks (none)
      there are (or will be) more profiles on my blog.  I'll keep posting them here as well.

      OurSenate.com, for all the news on the 2006 Senate elections

      by maxpalmer on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 12:44:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I will be watching for them (none)
        and when I am not supposed to be painting my son's room, I will head over to your blog as well...I don't think I could name more than maybe twenty senators, and am suddenly feeling rather like the kids in my high school who couldn't name the vice president...(George Bush --which tells you how long ago high school was...)

        Random and arbitrary. hoo-ah.

        by jules too on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 01:18:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I also have a Senate blog... (none)
      With info on the '06 races (for now).

      Check my signature...

      (Also, rather embarassing, in addition to being able to name all 100, I can recognize many by their voices from listening to CSPAN so often in my headphones at work)

  •  Susan Collins in 2008 (none)
    I read that when she was first elected in 1996 she promised to not serve more than 2 terms. Will she keep that promise?

    It sure would be sweet to get a Democratic Senator in a blue state like Maine (NH as well).

    •  i hope so (none)
      whether she retires or not, I hope Rep. Tom Allen runs for the Senate in 2008.  He is a great Rep. and fairly liberal.  He supposedly considered challenging Snowe in 2006, but she is far more popular than him.

      OurSenate.com, for all the news on the 2006 Senate elections

      by maxpalmer on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 12:43:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kay Bailey Hutchinson promised only 2 terms (none)
      when she was elected too.  She just announced she is running for a third Senate term rather than challenge Rick Perry for Gov. of Texas.  Her excuse for breaking her promise was along the lines of, "well, I don't have to keep MY promise because not everybody else kept THEIR promises."  Way to show integrity, Kay.  I think the real story was that she was heavily pressured by the Repubs not to challenge Perry in a primary (because she would've whupped his ass), and she didn't really want to be a stay-at-home mom to those late-in-life adopted kids of hers.  Obviously she hasn't read Ricky Santorum's book yet.
      •  See? (none)
        Term limits apply only when the other party has a stranglehold on a body.  All that hoopla about term limits being so good for democracy that the Republicans were yelling about in the early 90s...

        THEY LIED.

        I'M SHOCKED.

        What's so patriotic about waving an American flag that was made in China?

        by ultrageek on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 02:57:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Almost All of them (none)
    I memorized every US Senator, every Governor, and about 150 US Reps....God I just realized I have no life....
  •  just tried - was able to name all 100 (none)
    but then I teach Government, so I tend to pay attention

    Don't ask me if I would recognize all 100 were I to see them on the street  -- there are a few who might give me trouble.  But I spend a fair amount of time on the Hill (usually waiting for my wife) and in the process of wandering around, and various political events (and seeing Joe Lieberman regularly at synagogue about 10 years back) I think of the current 100 I have actually seen live something like 45.  Once I as coming out of Madison Building while Collins was coming in, so I simply said "Senator" and nodded, and she nodded back.

    Much harder to keep track of the 435 House members -- I'd hate to be a House page for just that reason.  I think of the current 435 I probably could name something around 150-200 without cheating, and I know that I have been in he presence of a good 70-80.  But then, there were a whole batch at the 50th birthday for Howard Dean and Cap City Brewery -- I got to talk with a couple there, and saw a whole lot more, and I've run into others at various places, including while shopping (once ran into San Nunn that way, many years ago while he was still in Senate).

    Try this ..  imagine your own state legislature.  How many members there can you name?  Can you even name the leaders on both sides?  Can you name your own???  You'd be surprised how many otherwise politically involved Americans cannot.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 12:44:36 PM PDT

  •  All Of Them (none)
    I can get all 100 Senators, and probably about 49 governors (I always seem to forget one when I do that).

    Now, can anybody list all 435 representatives?  That would be impressive.

  •  very nice tool (none)
    But do you think Religion is such a definitive category that it should be listed so high?  I think you could leave it off, or, if it is a definitive part of a Senator's agenda, list it in the biography.  I'd just as rather learn which Senators prefer boxers to briefs as discover which are baptists and which are presbyterians.

    The way that can be known is not the way.

    by zenbowl on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 12:47:23 PM PDT

    •  religion (none)
      i thought that religion would be of interest to some people.  Religion is such a major factor in politics right now that I thought it might be useful to know.

      Education is also something that might interest people, but isn't essential.

      Age is more important, because it effects how much longer a senator is likely to serve.

      OurSenate.com, for all the news on the 2006 Senate elections

      by maxpalmer on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 12:56:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm interested (none)
        I think it's a really telling indication of where the Senate has come. For example--how many of our Senators are Mormon? (I think it's 4, but I'm not sure). How many are Jewish (a lot, relatively). How many are Catholic (again, a lot, I think). I think that's pretty remarkable considering how big a deal Kennedy's religion was when he ran for President.

        We may be perceived and portrayed as a lockstep Protestant nation, but that's not the way the Senate looks.

        This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

        by emptywheel on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 01:11:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Religious Makeup (none)
          There are 11 Jews in the Senate (Schumer, Lautenberg, Levin, Wyden, Feinstein, Boxer, Kohl, Feingold, Coleman, Specter, Lieberman) and 5 Mormons (Bennett, Hatch, Smith, Reid, Crapo). It's really amazing - Jews make up 1.4% of the nation's population and Mormons account for 1.3% (source).

          Jewish representation will increase next session if Ben Cardin wins in Maryland and Bernie Sanders prevails in Vermont.

          I counted 23 Catholics. There's also 2 Greek Orthodox.

        •  When Kennedy ran for President (none)
          ...his religion was considered a BAD thing.  Imagine!  We have done a complete 180.  Now it's not only helpful to be a Catholic, but you have to be a GOOD Catholic (unlike John Kerry, who was refused communion by some extremists!).  I have to quote Bob Somerby:

          Today's theocrat pundit loves to preen and show off his unyielding piety. Just consider the "outrages of the week" on Saturday's Capital Gang, for example. Since the gang was staging a "special" show--an hour-long "tribute" to Pope John Paul II--all pundits offered pope-related outrages. But uh-oh! Times have really changed! Plu-pious pilgrim pundit Bob Novak really came up with a doozy:

              AL HUNT (4/9/05): Bob?

              NOVAK: The Senate Tuesday voted 98-0 to honor John Paul II but thirty minutes later, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer brought up a proposal of disrespect for the late pope. He was architect of an anti-abortion policy adopted by a U.N. conference at Mexico City in 1984. The Boxer Amendment ends U.S. acceptance of the Mexico City language that bars U.S. subsidies for abortion abroad. It carried by just six votes. Shame on eight Republican Senators, who broke party ranks to thumb their noses at John Paul.

          Try to believe that a Big Major Pundit said that right here in your country! Forty-five years ago, Candidate Kennedy promised America that he wouldn't be led around by a pope. But now, religious crackpots are re-ascendent, and Novak thought it was the week's biggest "outrage" when a United States senator made a proposal that Pope John Paul wouldn't have liked! Incredibly, it was the "outrage of the week" when Boxer dared propose such a thing--and when Republican solons helped pass her amendment, Novak felt that they were shamefully "thumbing their noses" at the pope. So it goes as post-Camelot pundits try to put Rome back in charge.

      •  Although one more request (none)
        Can you also name what KIND of degree the Senators have? I think lawyer v. doctor v. bug killer is pretty telling as well.

        This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

        by emptywheel on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 01:13:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I agree... (none)
        I loved it when the COGIC people were trying to tell the Catholic senators about how it was unCatholic to support X legislation... and, my guy Durbin thanked his Mormon and COGIC friends for the theology lesson, but that wouldn't change his vote.

        Love that man.

        What's so patriotic about waving an American flag that was made in China?

        by ultrageek on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 02:59:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Education, religion, and marital status (none)
      Are all listed in most of the standard reference books that list members of Congress (the Almanac of American Politics, CQ's Guide to Congress, etc.)  I think it gives you some idea what they're like, and what kind of background they have.
  •  Love it (none)
    One suggestion, up to you of course.

    Include a small photo of the Senator in your bio's.  It helps keep the name & information in memory if there's a face I can attach to the person.  Even alot of the well known (okay, the semi-well known) Senators, I probably wouldn't be able to pick them out of a line up.  I know their name & stances on certain issues, but no clue what they look like.

  •  excellent! (none)
    Excellent diary...thanks for doing it. By the way, I came up with about 40 names :/ This will be a big help to me.
  •  I tried this (none)
    on the way home from work the other day, and I ended up with 97.  My wife thought I was a freak.  I guess the moral of the story is that I read dkos too much.
    •  Great topic (none)
      I was able to get all 100, although it took me twenty minutes. As part of my intern duties, I'm assembling a database of all the members of Congress and their staffs, so I've spent quite a few hours reading the Congressional Yellow Book.

      It's actually interesting to see what they list for profession and education. Apparently Jim Bunning is still a "professional baseball player." Funny, I didn't see him at the Congressional Baseball Game last month...

  •  Add a poll! (none)
    You should add a poll.

    I was able to get over 30, maybe could get to 40 if I really spent more time at it.

    I wonder how that adds up against other Kossacks. Maybe a bit lower than average, I don't know ...

  •  Therrrrrreeeee's (4.00)
    United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru;
    Republic Dominican, Cuba, Carribean, Greenland, El Salvador too...

    Oh sorry, flashed on Animaniacs for a second there.

    And I, I, I, I - turn up the radio. Lies, lies and propaganda. I - gonna tell you what I need. Life, life without surrender

    by nightsweat on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 12:58:52 PM PDT

  •  I Can Name Every Democrat (none)
    And the moderate Repuglicans (no biggie, very short list), a few Repugs from neighboring states, and the most notorious GOP assholes like Santorum, Cornyn, Frist, etc. Probably 90 total.

    Fox News is a propaganda outlet of the Republican Party - DNC Chair Howard Dean

    by easong on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 01:00:17 PM PDT

  •  I can probably name the senators (none)
    east of the Mississippi and the west coast. I do get confused in states like AL and MS(which one is Sessions from again??) and some western states(Larry Thomas, Larry Craig, get them confused too). Great idea for a diary series. Is Delaware Dem still around?? I loved his/her "Democrat of the Day" diaries(profiles of every single Dem rep, Senator, and governor).

    So apparently Mr. Tomlinson thinks Big Bird is a Democrat -Sen. Byron Dorgan(D-ND)

    by jj32 on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 01:15:05 PM PDT

    •  I can name all 100 (none)
      and all 43 Presidents, thought I am not even close on governors and the House. As for the ones you asked about, Jeff Sessions is from Alabama, Craig Thomas is from Wyoming and Larry Craig is from Idaho. And as for Delaware Dem, he is right here, but I cannot find any of the Democrat of the Day postings. I do not know how far the archives currently go back - my guess is that somewhere along the way he abandoned the project.

      "I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." George Herbert Walker Bush

      by liberal atheist on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 02:15:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Does It Count (none)
    if I say "That crazy doctor who wants to execute abortionists" or "The outraged at the outrage" guy?

    Okay, 40 off the top of my head.

    Are you more bitter now than you were four years ago?

    by CountAsterisk on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 01:25:23 PM PDT

  •  all the senators (none)
    Probably 40-45 of the governors (I don't pay attention to them quite as much) and I once tried to name as many reps as possible and got more than 400. But some of them are just not important enough to remember, you know?
  •  That was fun. (none)
    I got 61 (33 Ds, 27 Rs).

    I had absolutely no idea how many I'd come up with. I feel pretty good about myself, so all you people who got 100, please stop posting. You're deflating my self esteem.

    •  I'm with you, King... (none)
      I could only list in the 60s too (69).  And I think that's pretty good.  How many Americans do you think could list more than 25?

      Ok, time for a quorum call.

      Mr. Akaka....

      •  LOL (none)
        Listening to roll call on C-Span pays off I guess. I am going to listening even more now.

        That will be my goal for the summer now...to learn all the Senators and what states they are from.

      •  25?!? (none)
        How many Americans do you think can list 5?  I actually did this myself the other day, and got about 45.  Still, I know more senators by name than movie stars.  Part of the geek club, I guess.

        Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care. Give it fresh water and feed it clean air. -- Dr. Seuss

        by mwk on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 02:29:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  When I was in high school... (none)
          ...me and a friend, sitting in an all-night coffee shop, set out to make a list of every person we could think of. It was kind of a test of the capacity of memory. The rules were:
          • Both of us had to know the person (corraboration, before we knew what that meant).
          • We had to know what each named person looked like (It could not be just someone we read about).
          • They had to be living (Had to draw a line somewhere).
          We categorized them as people we knew personally, celebrities, and everybody else.

          If I recall, we came up with about 2700 by around 2:30am, when we got bored and went home to bed.

          The Media Is Dead. Long Live NewsCorpse.com

          by KingOneEye on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 03:04:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Kohl's not unopposed, whatever CQ says. (none)
    I've filed a Declaration of Candidacy. That's not "token" opposition, but toking opposition.

    No-one who voted against the USAPATRIOT Act has lost an election. I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State. Or Yours.

    by ben masel on Thu Jul 07, 2005 at 02:11:32 PM PDT

  •  I had to post a valueless comment (none)
    This kind of diary is one of the reason this site is part of my daily routine. Sure I could google and gather all this data and arrange it and...maybe use it three times. Thanks to your diary I have a link, so as soon as there is a news story or a post which mentions a senator, I can quickly go and get the background of that senator.

    Coincidentally just read a diary about kos being fox news for liberals. No real comparison. More a "call-out" on diaries and posts in general. Seems a common thread of late is the lack of value anymore in kos. "Why back in nought-four kos was free and wild an' a man could breathe. Not like today..." the codger sighed wistfully.

    I am sure we all would love the perfect world where all the diaries were excellent and worth recommending and half of those were our own.

    At least for one shining moment you have two-of-three.

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