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Senate Madness - First Round: Two vs. Fifteen seeds

19th Century Era

2. John C. Calhoun (19th), D/D-R/Nullifier-South Carolina, 1782-1850: During the debates over slavery before the Civil War, there was no bigger and notable champion of states’ rights than John C. Calhoun, who preached under his doctrine of nullification that states had the right to reject federal policies they believed were unconstitutional. Calhoun also served as vice president (under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson), secretary of war (under James Monroe), and secretary of state (under John Tyler).

15. Marcus Hanna (19th), R-Ohio, 1837-1904: He was the quintessential Republican political strategist of the late 19th Century, helping to put Rutherford B. Hayes, (1876), James Garfield (1880), and William McKinley (1896) in the White House. Afterward, he was appointed to – and then later won – a Senate seat and became McKinley’s top ally and adviser in Congress.

 

20th Century Era

2. Everett Dirksen (20th), R-Illinois, 1896-1969: When you have a building named after you, you did something. The 37-year member of Congress believed in governance, in compromise, and was a pivotal figure in getting the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts passed. He voted as minority leader for cloture to end the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act. He held the position as Republican leader until the day he died. Dirksen’s also responsible for the modern-day televised response to the president’s State of the Union. (By the way, Dirksen is also 10-seed Howard Baker’s father-in-law.)

15. Margaret Chase Smith (20th), R-Maine, 1897-1995: First woman to serve in both the House and Senate, and was an outspoken critic of McCarthyism. In fact, she was the first senator – male or female – to speak out against Sen. McCarthy’s communist witch hunt.

 

Modern Era

2. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (Modern), D-New York, 1927-2003: He was known for his intellect (he wrote 19 books), his forward thinking (he foresaw the Soviet decline), connections to history, and his ideas to come up with solutions to big problems -- from auto safety to cities to racism. He could work across the aisle and had a hand in the 1980s Social Security fix as well as working with Bob Dole on a health-insurance fix (not what the White House wanted) in the 1990s that never came to fruition. He also was one of the only Democrats to speak out against late-term abortion, calling it "infanticide." The New York Times called him an “often brilliant synthesizer whose works compelled furious debate and further research.”

15. George Mitchell (Modern), D-Maine, 1933-present: He began his Senate experience as a top aide to former Sen. Ed Muskie (D-Maine), then as a senator himself, and then as Senate majority leader from 1989 through 1995. After leaving the Senate, Mitchell played a key role in negotiating the peace agreement in Northern Ireland.

 

Mixed Era

2. Henry Cabot Lodge (Mixed), R-Massachusetts, 1850-1924: If you want to point to one person who re-defined how politics is played on Capitol Hill, look to Lodge. He wrote the playbook for how to oppose a president. He and Woodrow Wilson did not get along. So much so Wilson’s widow told him not to come to Wilson’s funeral. The position of majority leader didn’t even exist at the time, but Lodge is referred to as the de facto majority leader because of his tenure and influence, particularly on foreign policy. The hawkish Republican scuttled the U.S.’s joining of the League of Nations in the Treaty of Versailles, putting a premium on party unity. He was also instrumental in the annexing of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, and pushed for a stronger Navy. If he has a weakness, it was that his focus in the Senate was almost exclusively on foreign policy.

15. Phil Hart (Mixed), D-Michigan, 1912-1976: Hart served in the Senate for nearly 20 years, and was a prominent supporter of the Civil Rights Act. In fact, he earned the nickname, “The Conscience of the Senate.” But today, he’s perhaps best known for one of the Senate office buildings being named after him.