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A Look at Senate Appointees as Cowan Joins Their Ranks

Vice President Joe Biden, right, swears in Senator-designate William “Mo” Cowan Thursday. Cowan will fill the senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry, left, until a special election in June. Also pictured are Sen. Elizabeth Warren, second left, and Cowan’s sons Miles and Grant and his wife Stacy. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters.

William ‘Mo’ Cowan was sworn in Thursday as the new senator of Massachusetts, replacing John Kerry, the recently-confirmed Secretary of State. Cowan, a Democrat, is the third ever African-American to be appointed as a senator, and the second this year after Tim Scott filled the vacancy left by the resignation of Republican Jim DeMint in South Carolina. Cowan’s swearing in marks the first time that more than one African-American will be serving in the U.S. Senate at one time.

Republican Senator Tim Scott replaced Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned from the senate in December.

Appointments to the Senate only began after 1913, when the 17th Amendment gave U.S. citizens the power to elect senators, giving governors the ability to appoint a replacement for a senator if they were to die, resign or be expelled from office. Several senate appointees of the 20th century rose to the highest ranks, including John Foster Dulles, R-N.Y., who was President Dwight Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, and Walter Mondale, D-Minn., who served as Vice President under President Jimmy Carter. Since 1980, there have been 32 senate appointments. Of those, 14 were elected to serve after their appointment, and six ran but did not win.

Notable Senate Appointments

Over the last few decades, several appointed senators have made headlines.

Dan Coats, R-Ind., was appointed by Republican Gov. Robert Orr in 1989 after Dan Quayle was tapped as the Vice Presidential nominee to run with former President George H.W. Bush. Coats won election in 1992 and served until 1998. He later served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005. In 2010 Coats ran again and won his Senate seat back by a large margin.

Zell Miller, D-Ga., perhaps one of the more dynamic voices in U.S. party politics in recent history, first served as governor of Georgia from 1991 to 1999 before being appointed by his successor as a senator in 2000. During the 2004 general election, Miller jumped party lines by backing President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign. This very public switch was solidified by an electrifying speech at the Republican National Convention, where Miller criticized the Democratic party, famously saying, “No pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two senators from Massachusetts – Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.” In that same speech he had much to say about candidate Kerry’s positions on foreign policy: “This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?” After leaving office in 2005, he served as a senior policy advisor for law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge.

Former Missouri first lady Jean Carnahan, D-Mo., was appointed to take the place of her husband, Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was elected to the senate posthumously in 2000. Carnahan died in a plane crash along with a campaign advisor and his son who was piloting the plane. Jean Carnahan was appointed by Roger Wilson, her husband’s lieutenant governor and acting governor after his death. She served from January 2001 until November 2002, when she was defeated in the special election to fill the seat.

Surrounded by family members on the deck of her home Jean Carnahan, widow of the late Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, announced on October 30, 2000 she would accept appointment to Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat if voters picked her late husband over Republican incumbent John Ashcroft in Rolla, Mo. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/Liaison.

Among the more recent appointments is Bob Menendez, D-N.J., appointed in 2006 to fill the vacancy of Jon Corzine, who became New Jersey’s governor. Menendez was re-elected in 2012 and is now the current chairman of the Council of Foreign relations. Menendez, who has been in headlines recently, replaced Secretary of State John Kerry as chairman, and presided over Kerry’s confirmation hearings two weeks ago.

In 2008, Roland Burris, D-Ill., was the first African-American to be appointed to the Senate, chosen by then Gov. Rob Blagojevich to fill the seat left by President Obama. Burris took the oath of office on January 15, 2009, after a delay due to issues with his credentials. Under considerable pressure due to the impeachment and subsequent criminal conviction of Blagojevich, Burris chose not to seek election after serving out the term.

Roland Burris was appointed to the Senate by ousted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Burris filled the seat left vacant after the 2008 election of President Obama. Photo by Jim Prisching/Getty.

Besides William Cowan, two others have been appointed to the U.S. Senate in recent months. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, was appointed to fill a seat after longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye passed away late last year. Hawaii’s Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Schatz, his lieutenant governor at the time, as well as the former chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party. Schatz was sworn in on December 27, 2012. (Read more about Brian Schatz’s appointment here.)

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz was appointed to fill the senate seat left vacant by the passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye. Courtesy Office of Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Down south, Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C., chose Republican Tim Scott to succeed Jim DeMint after he announced his Senate resignation on January 2, 2013. DeMint left congress to become head of the conservative organization Heritage Foundation. (Read more about Tim Scott’s appointment here.)

A full list of U.S. Senate appointees since 1980 (from senate.gov) is below:

George J. Mitchell (D-Maine)

Date Appointed: May 17, 1980

Elected: Yes, on November 2, 1982.

Nicholas F. Brady (R-N.J.)

Date Appointed: April 12, 1982

Elected: Did not seek election.

Daniel J. Evans (R-Wash.)

Date Appointed: September 8, 1983

Elected: Yes, on November 8, 1983.

James T. Broyhill (R-N.C.)

Date Appointed: July 3, 1986

Elected: No, defeated on November 5, 1986.

David K. Karnes (R-Neb.)

Date Appointed: March 11, 1987

Elected: No, defeated on November 8, 1988.

Dan Coats (R-Ind.)

Date Appointed: January 3, 1989

Elected: Yes, on November 6, 1990.

Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii)

Date Appointed: May 16, 1990

Elected: Yes, on November 6, 1990

John Seymour (R-Calif.)

Date Appointed: January 7, 1991

Elected: No, defeated on November 3, 1992.

Harris Wofford (D-Pa.)

Date Appointed: May 8, 1991

Elected: Yes, on November 5, 1991.

Jocelyn Burdick (D-N.D.)

Date Appointed: September 12, 1992

Elected: Did not seek election.

Harlan Mathews (D-Tenn.)

Date Appointed: January 2, 1993

Elected: Did not seek election.

Robert C. Krueger (D-Texas)

Date Appointed: January 21, 1993

Elected: No, defeated on June 5, 1993.

Sheila Frahm (R-Kan.)

Date Appointed: June 11, 1996

Elected: No, defeated for nomination.

Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.)

Date Appointed: November 2, 1999

Elected: Yes, on November 7, 2000.

Zell Miller (D-Ga.)

Date Appointed: July 24, 2000

Elected: Yes, on November 7, 2000.

Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.)

Date Appointed: Effective January 3, 2001

Elected: No, defeated on November 5, 2002.

Dean Barkley (I-Minn.)

Date Appointed: November 4, 2002

Elected: Did not seek election.

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

Date Appointed: December 20, 2002

Elected: Yes, on November 2, 2004.

Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

Date Appointed: January 17, 2006

Elected: Yes, on November 7, 2006

John A. Barrasso (R-Wyo.)

Date Appointed: June 22, 2007

Elected: Yes, on November 4, 2008

Roger F. Wicker (R-Miss.)

Date Appointed: December 31, 2007

Elected: Yes, on November 4, 2008

Roland W. Burris (D-Ill.)

Date Appointed: December 31, 2008

Note: Appointed December 31, 2008, but credentials were not in order until January 12, 2009. Took oath of office on January 15, 2009.

Elected: Did not seek election.

Edward E. Kaufman (D-Del.)

Date Appointed: January 15, 2009

Elected: Did not seek election.

Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.)

Date Appointed: January 21, 2009

Elected: Yes, on November 2, 2010.

Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Date Appointed: January 26, 2009

Note: Appointed January 23, 2009, and appointment took effect upon her resignation from the House of Representatives on January 26, 2009. Took the oath of office on January 27, 2009.

Elected: Yes, on November 2, 2010,

George S. LeMieux (R-Fla.)

Date Appointed: September 9, 2009, and began service on September 10, 2009.

Elected: Did not seek election.

Paul G. Kirk, Jr. (D-Mass.)

Date Appointed: September 24, 2009

Note: Took the oath of office on September 25, 2009.

Elected: Did not seek election.

Carte P. Goodwin (D-W.V.)

Date Appointed: July 16, 2010

Note: Took the oath of office on July 20, 2010.

Elected: Did not seek election

Dean Heller (R-Nev.)

Date Appointed: May 3, 2011

Note: Took the oath of office on May 9, 2011.

Elected: Yes, on November 6, 2012.

Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

Date Appointed: December 26, 2012

Note: Took the oath of office on December 27, 2012.

Tim Scott (R-S.C.)

Date Appointed: January 2, 2013

Note: Took the oath of office on January 3, 2013.

William “Mo” Cowan (D-Mass.)

Date Appointed: February 1, 2013

Note: Took the oath of office on February 7, 2013.

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