Although every senator gets one and only one vote, some senators are more equal than others thanks to the seniority system. This is mainly important in the committee system, so ranking in your own party may be more important than your overall ranking. Wikipedia has a complete list of Senate seniority, so I thought I would look into where our senators stand and what their prospects are.
Currently New Jersey’s senior senator, Frank Lautenberg, sits at #61 overall and #36 for Democrats based on his start date of January 3, 2003. The only benefit from his years of prior service is that, in a tie-breaker worthy of the NFL, he is put ahead of the five other remaining members first elected in 2002. (If his previous service counted, he would be somewhere in the neighborhood of #13-18 and in charge of a committee instead of Joe Lieberman. By the way, I’m including Lieberman as a Democrat because his seniority counts in the caucus.)
The junior senator, Bob Menendez, sits at #74 overall and #38 for Democrats. (Yes, he’s only two behind Lautenberg in the Democratic caucus: The elections of 2002 and 2004 were not good for our party.) This is actually a pretty good rise: In only three years, Senator Menendez now is ahead of a quarter of the other senators overall and a third of Democrats. That’s thanks to many Republican retirements and defeats in 2006 and 2008, the triumph of the Obama-Biden ticket, and Obama’s appointments of senior senators to Cabinet positions. Below the flip, we’ll see how the future looks.