New Kids On The Block: The Good And The Bad From Turnover In Indiana's Congressional Delegation

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 8, 2012 Updated Nov 8, 2012 at 6:38 PM EDT

INDIANA, (www.incnow.tv) --- Sending fresh blood to Washington: does it put Hoosiers at a disadvantage?

We’re talking about the impact of significant recent turnover in Indiana's congressional delegation.

It’s often said, once politicians get elected to jobs on Capitol Hill, they never seem to leave.

Indiana is definitely bucking that trend.

As a result of the 2010 and 2012 elections, both of Indiana's senate seats and 7 of 9 congressional seats changed hands.

Mark Souder, Dan Burton, Mike Pence, Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh are just some of those who've resigned, retired, or moved on to bigger and better elected offices.

After the 2008 election, the members of our congressional delegation had on average more than 13 and a half years experience.

After Tuesday’s election, the average slipped to 3 and a half years.

More terms in office generally translate into better committee slots, and more influence and power.

" In the end, when transportation dollars, for example, are getting allocated, we want to make sure we get our fair share, and the better your folks, your staffers, and you as a member of Congress are able to work that system and understand how things happen, the more likely you are to bring those good things back to the state," says Andy Downs, with the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.

Downs believes the state's new senator, Democrat Joe Donnelly, might wield more power than the average newbie in that legislative body.

Democrats who control the Senate want to retain that seat, so Downs figures Donnelly will get some choice committee assignments, and may be able to get more federal funding back home, to try and prove to Hoosier voters that it will be a good idea to re-elect him in six years.

Thomas Schneider, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of St. Francis, says the Founding Fathers never envisioned senators and U.S. representatives serving multiple terms in office.

He recognizes the potential loss of clout and cash from congressional turnover, but he ultimately thinks sending new faces to Washington is in the best interest of our nation as a whole.

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