Take a look at the following list of children of senators who went on to serve in the U.S. Senate. I say children, because they would all be sons if Republican Frank Murkowski of Alaska hadn’t appointed his daughter, Lisa, to the Senate after he became governor.
The list is interesting to those of us in South Dakota, as U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson eyes a possible Senate bid for the seat currently held by his father.
As we can see from the list, which was provided to me by the Senate Historical Office, we can see that there have been numerous instances of children of senators serving in the Senate.
But, as you can also see, it’s rare for a son to follow directly after a father.
“Usually there’s some lapse in time,” said Donald Ritchie, a historian in the office.
Voters in states often react well to certain names. Thus, family members might dominate a Senate seat for generations. Take the Robert La Follette father/son team that dominated a Senate seat in Wisconsin for 40 years.
“In politics, your last name is like a trademark — it’s like a brand name,” Ritchie said.
Johnson is a common name, and it’s one that has a long political history in South Dakota. No doubt it would be helpful to Brendan Johnson should he run for Senate, House or town dogcatcher.