Franken ranks last in Senate seniority

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) may have been elected eight months ago but he's low-man on the Senate totem poll.

Franken, who was sworn into office on Tuesday after a long legal battle, ranks last when it comes to Senate seniority.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) office confirmed Franken's position.

"Franken's service begins on the date on which he is sworn. So regardless of state size, etc, he cannot jump over members who were sworn on Jan. 6th," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said in an email. "So Mr. Franken is Number 100 and is last in seniority for all members and, of course last, for Democrats too."

That puts Franken behind several senators who were appointed to their positions after November's election. Sens. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) joined the Senate in mid January after then-Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Joe Biden (D-Conn.) were elected to the White House. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also took office in late January to replace senators who took Cabinet positions.

Seniority determines where a senator sits on a committee, particularly in terms of committee leadership. It can also affect seemingly smaller matters, such as what desk a senator has in the chamber and the odds of getting a better office when there is a vacancy. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) is the chamber's highest-ranking senator and serves as president pro tempore. That position allows him to preside over the Senate and puts him in line for the presidency.

- J. Taylor Rushing