In Senate, it’s out with the old, in with the young(er)

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WASHINGTON — The next Senate will be slightly younger than the current one.

With several races still to be called, the 11 newly-minted senators set to take office in January are, on average, 16 years younger than the lawmakers they are replacing. Each incoming senator is younger than the departing senator — some by decades.

Four of the new senators are under 50, boosting a small contingent of Generation X members in the upper chamber. Gen Xers follow baby boomers and were born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.

At 37, Republican Sen.-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas is the youngest incoming senator, while Republican David Perdue of Georgia, 64, is the oldest. The average age of the new senators is 50, compared with 66 for the lawmakers they are replacing. All but one of the 11 are Republicans.

The new blood in Congress is not limited to the Senate.

Elise Stefanik, a 30-year-old New York Republican, is the youngest woman ever elected to the House. Also making history is Mia Love, 38, whose election to a suburban Salt Lake City district made her the first black female Republican to win a seat in Congress.

The next Congress will have a minimum of 101 female members, including Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., who will take office next week as the 100th female member of the current Congress — the most elected women Capitol Hill has ever had. Adams also was elected to a full two-year term starting in January.

At least 20 senators will be women, the same number of women in the Senate now.

Twenty-nine Latinos will serve in the House, the largest number ever, while the number of African-Americans in Congress will increase from 43 to at least 46, including three Republicans.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who won a two-year term in a special election, is the first African-American senator from the South since just after the Civil War

Even with the increased diversity, Congress remains overwhelmingly white and male. Senators are currently 62.5 years old on average, but will see their average age drop to 60.8 in the new Congress, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.

Two of the oldest senators, Republicans Pat Roberts of Kansas, 78, and Thad Cochran, 77, of Mississippi, were re-elected Tuesday, as was 72-year-old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell is line to become majority leader in January.

Four women won Senate seats on Tuesday, including Iowa Republican Joni Ernst, the first woman ever in Iowa’s congressional delegation and the first female veteran to serve in the Senate. Ernst, 44, is 28 years younger than the man she replaces, longtime Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., won a promotion to the Senate. Capito, 60, replaces retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, 77.

If Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., wins a runoff next month against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, there will be 21 female senators in the next Congress, the highest ever.

Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, hailed the increased number of women elected to Congress, but she said gains were blunted by the general Republican tilt of the midterms.

“While Republicans won big across the country, women remain seriously underrepresented among GOP officeholders,” Walsh said, noting that just six Republican women will serve in the Senate, along with 21 or 22 GOP women in the House.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the Republican Party has “a long way to go” to increase the number of female office-holders, but said, “We’ve made great gains.”

At a news conference Wednesday, Walden said the Republican women elected Tuesday “are a very talented group. They will help us grow the women members that we have in the next cycle. There’s lot of work to do to diversify our party, to grow our party.”

MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press

Associated Press news researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.

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