Elections to change Senate ag committee

by Jay Sjerven
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WASHINGTON — No matter which party wins control of the US Senate as a result of today’s elections, there was expected to be a greater change in the Democratic membership of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry than on the other of the aisle.

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 to be contested.

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chairwoman of the Senate agriculture committee, is running for her fourth term as US senator. Other Democratic members of the agriculture committee running for reelection are 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 was the retirement of Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who lost the Indiana Republican primary to Richard Mourdock. Senator Lugar has served six terms as US 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.

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