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Pressler could be SD's youngest, oldest senator

By Eric J. Ostermeier

Smart Politics

The surprise announcement last weekend of Larry Pressler exploring a comeback run at the U.S. Senate as an independent raises the possibility of an unusual historical oddity in the Mount Rushmore State:

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  • A new Smart Politics report finds that if Pressler runs and wins his old U.S. Senate seat next November, he would hold a unique distinction of owning the titles of both the youngest and oldest candidate ever elected to the U.S. Senate from South Dakota.
  • Pressler holds the record as the youngest U.S. senator elected from South Dakota, when he won his first term 35 years ago in 1978. On that day, Pressler was 36 years, seven months, nine days old — besting a record that had stood in the state for 88 years when Populist James Kyle was elected to the chamber for the first of his two terms in 1890 at the age of 36 years, eight months, 11 days.
  • If Pressler wins back his old Senate seat in 2014, he would be 72 years, seven months, and six days old — nearly five years older than the state’s current record and nearly twice the age at which he was elected in 1978.
  • The oldest South Dakotan ever to be elected to the chamber was Democrat William Bulow in 1936 — winning his second of two terms at the age of 67 years, nine months, 21 days. Only one South Dakotan during the last 50 years has won a U.S. Senate seat above the age of 60: Tim Johnson in 2008 at 61 years, 10 months, seven days.
  • Since statehood, the average age of the South Dakota candidates elected to the U.S. Senate is 51 years with four elected in their 30s, 18 in their 40s, 13 in their 50s and nine in their 60s.

Smart Politics is the nonpartisan political news site authored by Dr. Eric Ostermeier at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.