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Flow of State Lawmakers to Congress Remains Strong

By Deanna Ross  |  December 5, 2022

As the 2022 midterm elections took the main stage across America, so did former members of state legislatures. From coast to coast, the pipeline delivering former state lawmakers to Congress continues to flow, even if the total number serving on Capitol Hill has declined slightly in recent years.

Midterm election results are still trickling in as races are called in Arizona, California, and New York, and one thing has become apparent: The 118th Congress will likely hold as many—if not a few more—former state legislators as the 117th.

First, some background: According to the Congressional Research Service, there are currently 238 former state or territorial legislators serving in the 117th Congress; they make up 44% of all elected members of the Senate and House combined. More specifically, 45 former state legislators serve in the Senate and 193 serve in the House. This includes the delegates from Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico, the only House member who serves a four-year term. In fact, the only state that does not currently have a former state legislator serving on its behalf in Congress is Delaware.

By comparison, 246 former state or territorial legislators, or about 46% of the total, served in the 116th Congress (2019-20). In the 115th (2017-18), that number was 266, or about 50%.

So how will the 118th Congress stack up?

Currently, 45 former state legislators are slated to serve in the U.S. Senate and 219 in the House of Representatives. So far, there have been two additions to the Senate and 31 additions to the House.

A couple more unique characteristics that former state legislators bring to the composition of the 118th:

  • North Carolina is sending the most former state legislators, with five former members of the state General Assembly joining the U.S. House as new members. This includes the new seat the state gained in the U.S. House after redistricting; that seat went to state Sen. Jeff Jackson. Of the state’s 14 congressional seats, 12 of them will be held by former state legislators in the 118th Congress.
  • South Carolina picked up a state legislator in its House delegation, meaning six of its seven members are former state legislators.
  • Former state legislators will make up about half of the 118th Congress, bringing to a national stage the expertise gained from working in their states.

Deanna Ross is a legislative specialist in NCSL’s State-Federal Affairs Program.

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