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Candidates and Campaigns

Candidates and Campaigns - of which is soft...

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Candidates and Campaigns Who runs for Congress? Congress consists of a self-selecting group of people who choose to run on their own initiative. Sometimes the party organizations will ask a particular person to run. The table on the next page summarizes the requirements for holding office in the House and Senate. ELIGIBILITY FOR CONGRESS House of Representatives Senate Minimum Age 25 30 Minimum Length of Citizenship 7 years 9 years State Residency Yes Yes Age in the House According to the Congressional Research Service, the youngest member of the 108th Congress was Adam Putnam, a Republican representative from Florida, age 30, and the oldest member was Ralph Hall, a Republican representative from Texas, age 81. In the past few decades, congressional elections have become very expensive. In the early 2000s, the average winning House race cost roughly $750,000, whereas a winning Senate campaign cost about $5 million. The money comes from a variety of sources: individual donors, political action committees (PACs), and party organizations (some
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Unformatted text preview: of which is soft money—unregulated money given to political parties and advocacy groups). Federal law regulates donations, limiting how much an individual and a PAC can donate in a given election cycle. In 2002, Congress passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly known as McCain-Feingold), which banned soft money. Incumbent Advantage An incumbent is a person who currently holds an office. Incumbents running for reelection have an incumbent advantage, which makes them extremely difficult to defeat. Incumbency gives a candidate significant benefits: better name recognition, a track record of pork and casework, and privileges of congressional membership, such as franking, which is the ability to mail letters to constituents for free. More than 90 percent of all incumbents win reelection in House races, although that number is a bit lower in the Senate. Challenging an incumbent, particularly one who has been in office for a while, is an uphill fight....
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  • Winter '09
  • LeslieTaylor
  • Government, United States Congress, United States House of Representatives, Congressional Research Service, Senate Minimum Age, incumbent advantage, Senate campaign cost

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