Carnahan Era in Missouri Has Two Weeks Left

Carnahan Family Has Served Missouri Since 1945

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On Monday, one member of a Missouri political dynasty made his final speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. In less than two weeks, another member of the Carnahan family will end her job to give way to the youngest statewide elected official in the United States. The new year signals a huge political change in Missouri as Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., and his sister, Robin, Missouri's Secretary of State, will no longer have public jobs.

What did Russ Carnahan say in his final speech?

Missouri's Third District representative arose in the House chamber around 9:25 a.m. ET on Monday to speak about five minutes. Despite ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations, Russ Carnahan wanted to say something about his time in Congress.

Carnahan first thanked his wife, Deborah, before mentioning his sons Austin and Andrew. The representative then spoke highly of four staff members who had been with him during his eight years in Congress. Carnahan continued, "I am gratified and humbled beyond belief to have been able to represent [Missourians] in this U.S. House of Representatives for eight years."

Why is Russ Carnahan stepping aside?

KMOX reveals Carnahan's district disappeared in the redistricting process. Missouri went from nine representatives to eight because the state's population didn't grow as much as others. In the August primary, he lost to Rep. Lacy Clay in a battle of two incumbents as both men reside in the same new district.

What happened to Robin Carnahan in Jefferson City?

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan chose not to run for a third term. She was first elected to statewide office in 2004. Jason Kander, also a Democrat, will take her place Jan. 14, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Upon taking office, the Huffington Post reports Kander will be the youngest statewide elected official in the United States.

How do these two Carnahans fit into the political dynasty?

Both Russ and Robin Carnahan are children of Mel Carnahan, the state's late governor, and Jean Carnahan, who served in the Senate for two years. They are grandchildren of Albert Sidney Johnson (A.S.J.) Carnahan, who served as a Democrat in the 79th Congress from 1945 to 1947 and again from 1949 to 1961. The patriarch then served as ambassador to Sierra Leone until 1963. Mel Carnahan and his oldest son Roger were killed in a plane crash on Oct. 16, 2000, on the campaign trail for a Senate seat south of St. Louis.

How long has a Carnahan served the people of Missouri?

Mel Carnahan became a municipal court judge in 1961, overlapping his father's service until he returned to private life from 1967 to 1980. A member of the Carnahan family has been in the public view, with the exception of 13 years, ever since January 1945. The span covers 55 non-consecutive years that will finish its run on Jan. 14 when Kander assumes office in Jefferson City.

William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.

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