Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

When Birth Certificates and Senate Races Clash

Democrats have attacked a trio of Republican Senate candidates for not being born in the states they seek to represent. While the issue could matter in a close race, there are four dozen senators who prove that birthplace isn’t necessarily a stumbling block to getting elected.

Just more than half of current senators, 52 percent, were born in the state they now represent. The other 48 senators were born in another state, or even another country. For example, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was born in India and Texas Republican Ted Cruz was born in Canada.

(Chart: Birthplaces of Senators of the 113th Congress)

That might be sobering news for Democrats trying to portray Dan Sullivan, the Ohio-born Republican running in Alaska; Steve Daines, the California-born, at-large House member running in Montana; or Scott Brown, the Maine native and former Massachusetts senator running in New Hampshire; as strangers in a foreign land. But it won’t stop Democrats from trying.

senatebirthplaces042514On a side note, 20 percent of the Democratic caucus (11 senators out of 55, including independents Bernard Sanders and Angus King) were born in the state of New York.

The Empire State’s two senators, Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are natives, but Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, California’s Barbara Boxer, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, Minnesota’s Al Franken, New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller, Sanders, and Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse were all born in New York as well.

(Blumenthal and my colleague Stuart Rothenberg both grew up in Manhattan and attended high school at the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx.)

Of course, the response from party strategists will be, “Well, in Alaska it really matters,” or “In Montana it really matters.” Just cut and paste the state to suit your needs. And in some states, or in some situations, being born in the state in which you are running could be an advantage, at least with some people.

Birthplace could matter in a very close race where any number of factors could make a difference. But let’s not pretend that where a candidate is born is a big deal in most contests or disqualifies someone from getting elected to the Senate.

  • Jack Everett

    Republicans are notorious for voting for anchor babies instead of Americans with American values.

    • Official Teabagger

      Where’s Michelle Malkin?

    • AD_Rtr_OS

      Yes, it was a disgrace to shut down the government for 16 days, it should have been much longer; much, much longer.
      I will give them the recognition on choice they deserve though, they think that women should have the right to the firearm of their choice.

    • The Painful Truth

      Says the Jack-@$$ who voted for the democrat anchor-baby occupying the WH…twice.

  • Gene McManus

    Once again Stu is trying to create a mountain out of a few grains of dust. The Constitution puts no place of birth requirements on Senators or Representatives, only on he President and vice President.

    • nathanlgonzales

      Gene- Did you read the story? It’s not about that at all. It’s about the parties using birthplace as a political attack, a way of questioning the candidates’ roots and authenticity. It has nothing to do with Constitutional requirements.

  • Gospace

    Thus subject absolutely requires bringing up Mrs. Clinton, elected to the senate from NY, despite never even having lived in the state.

    • Ygorbla

      New York is complicated.

      The main issue there was that Republicans can only win, in NY, by capturing an overwhelming majority of the upstate voters. Her opponent, though, was from the city, which from the perspective of upstate voters is actually worse than being from out-of-state; meanwhile, Hillary focused hard on wooing them.

  • AD_Rtr_OS

    Say Dems, what about that Junior Senator from IL who,when he was hawking a book, circulated a bio that stated that he was born in Kenya;
    would you like to talk about that?

  • The Painful Truth

    Dems are hypocrites, pure and simple.

  • Chris Tompkins

    Seriously, does anyone care which in which state you were born? How many people know the state where either of their senators were born? I certainly don’t.

  • Turning Leaves

    New York: Birthplace of Democratic Senators.

  • Hans Ohff

    Liberty empowers us to choose our goals, the efforts we undertake, and how to adjust our ways when confronted with that we couldn’t foresee.

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