Elections may bring little change to ag committee
by Jay Sjerven
WASHINGTON — The Democratic Party maintained control of the U.S. Senate as a result of yesterday’s election. Five Democrats on the Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry ran for reelection to the Senate, and all five claimed victory and will represent their respective states when the 113th Congress convenes in January. No Republican members of the Senate agriculture committee were required to run for reelection in this election cycle. Still, there will be departures of some long-standing members of the committee and some new faces on the committee this January.
The current agriculture committee is composed of 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Two Democrats, Senators Kent Conrad of North Dakota and E. Benjamin Nelson of Nebraska, announced late last year they would not seek new terms in the Senate, leaving two open Senate seats that were contested.
Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chairwoman of the Senate agriculture committee, was elected to a fourth term. Other Democratic members of the agriculture committee winning their bids for reelection were Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Democratic members of the committee whose terms in office did not require they run for reelection this year included Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Max Baucus of Montana and Michael Bennet of Colorado.
The only certain change on the Republican side of the aisle of the agriculture committee was the retirement of Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who lost the Indiana Republican primary to Richard Mourdock, who, in turn, was defeated by Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly. Senator Lugar has served six terms as U.S. senator from Indiana, is the current chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and is a former chairman of the Senate agriculture committee.
The other Republican members of the agriculture committee did not have to run for reelection this cycle. They include Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the ranking Republican member of the committee, as well as Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns of Nebraska, John Boozman of Arkansas, Charles Grassley of Iowa, John Thune of South Dakota and John Hoeven of North Dakota.