Tonight at midnight, Senator Robert Byrd will set the record for the longest tenure in the U.S. Congress. His time in the House and the Senate adds up to over 56 years.
Byrd, of course, began his career as a “community organizer” – founding his own local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. It was here that Byrd’s leadership skills were first on display, as he recruited the first 150 members to the chapter. Klan officials urged him to go into politics. Byrd has, of course, been exalted as a leader among Democrats in the Senate. And when the opposing Republicans took control of the chamber from 1981-1987 and 1995-2007, finally found a minority group he could agree with.
Still, who knew that the founder of the local chapter of an organization dedicated to the harassment of racial, ethnic, and religious groups could one day be crowned as the longest-tenured Member of Congress in history?