They’re both celebrating their 87th birthday this week, which doesn’t even make them the oldest senators – Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) beat them to it last January. But Hawaii Democrats Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka can claim a special place in the history of the Senate.
Inouye, who turned 87 on Wednesday, four days before his junior colleague, and Akaka have amassed a total of 69 years in the Senate – 48 for Inouye and 21 for Akaka. It’s believed to be the third most of any same state senators serving at the same time among the 1,931 men and women in the Senate since 1789.
But because Akaka is retiring next year, citing the need for more family time, the Aloha State duo has no chance of overtaking Mississippi Democrats John Stennis and Jim Eastland, who served more than 77 years concurrently, or South Carolina’s seemingly ageless Republican Strom Thurmond and Democrat Fritz Hollings, who served together more than 85 years, 47 by Thurmond.
If your head isn’t spinning yet from this numbers game, get this: Inouye, who has represented Hawaii since it achieved statehood in 1959, in the House and then the Senate in 1962, and Akaka, elected to the House in 1976 and appointed to the late Spark Matsunaga’s seat in 1990, are poised to set what is also believed to be a record for concurrent service in Congress by same state members. At the end of next year, they will have amassed a total of more than 87 years in the House and Senate.