Nearly 90 percent of third term U.S. Representatives since statehood sought reelection to a fourth

While Minnesota U.S. Representative Dean Phillips struggles to gain traction in his long-shot presidential bid as a Democratic establishment alternative to Joe Biden, he nonetheless recently announced that he would not seek a fourth term to represent his state’s 3rd Congressional District.

[Minnesota’s major party filing deadline for its August primary is June 4, 2024].

Over the course of Minnesota history, 84 of the more than 150 men and women to represent the state in the U.S. House were elected to three or more terms.

Nearly 90 percent sought a fourth term:

Another representative, Democrat Carl Van Dyke, died in office just two months into his third term in May 1919.

That leaves just nine representatives – in addition to Phillips – who did not seek reelection to a fourth term including just four over the last 110 years:

  • Republican William Washburn (1879-1885) focused on his business ventures but was later elected to the U.S. Senate in 1888
  • Republican Knute Nelson (1883-1889) returned to his law practice in Alexandria but was elected Governor in 1892 and then five times to the U.S. Senate beginning in 1895
  • Republican John Lind (1887-1893) resumed his law practice in New Ulm but later ran for governor in 1896, 1898, and 1900 – successfully the second time – and won one more nonconsecutive term in 1902 after moving to Minneapolis
  • Republican R. Page Morris (1897-1903) was appointed United States District Judge for the District of Minnesota and served from 1903 to 1923
  • Republican Frank Nye (1907-1913) returned to practice law in Minneapolis and would later be elected 4th Judicial District Court Judge (1921-1930)
  • Republican Franklin Ellsworth (1915-1921) ran for governor in 1920 and placed a distant fourth in the GOP primary
  • Republican-turned-Farmer-Laborite Ernest Lundeen (1917-1919, 1933-1937) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1936 after his third nonconsecutive term in the U.S. House
  • DFLer Rick Nolan (1975-1981) formed and became president of the United States Export Corporation
  • Republican Mark Kennedy (2001-2007) ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 but lost the general election to Amy Klobuchar

Phillips has been polling in the low single digits against Biden and Marianne Williamson in the overwhelming majority of public polls of the Democratic field.

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1 Comment

  1. Cecil Crusher on December 6, 2023 at 1:16 am

    Richard Michael Nolan DID stand for – and won – his ‘fourth’ term – albeit in 2012 on the NE part of the state (or, alternatively, he declined to seek re-election to his fourth term of *second stint* in 2018).

    As for Philips, he is poised to become the pariah both of the national party and even the state DFL – even if President Biden is re-elected!

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