When the 102nd Congress convenes in January, it will have a record number of blacks, women - and Mormons.
The latter, of course, is of keen interest in Utah, which is headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also, Utah is tied (with American Samoa) for having the highest percentage of LDS Church members in its delegation - 100 percent.The new Congress will have 13 LDS members - or 2.4 percent of the total. That is one more LDS member than the 12 who served in the 101st Congress, which was the previous record.
The record comes as former Reps. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, and Norman Shumway, R-Calif., who are LDS, chose to retire this year but were both replaced by other LDS members. Nielson was replaced by Rep.-elect Bill Orton, D-Utah, and Shumway by Rep.-elect John T. Doolittle, R-Calif.
The informal LDS caucus picked up its 13th member when Democratic Rep.-elect Dick Swett won one of New Hampshire's House seats by upsetting incumbent Rep. Chuck Douglas, R-N.H.
Other LDS members of the House who were re-elected were: Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah; Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah; Rep. Richard Stallings, D-Idaho; Rep. Morris Udall, D-Ariz.; Reps. Ron Packard and Wally Herger, R-Calif.; and non-voting Delegate Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa.
The three members of the Senate who are LDS did not face re-election this year. They are Sens. Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
The record numbers of LDS members in Congress leads to some interesting statistics.
For example, Utah and American Samoa have House delegations that are 100 percent LDS.
Utah and American Samoa have combined House and Senate delegations that are 100 percent LDS. New Hampshire's is 25 percent LDS. Idaho's and Nevada's are 25 percent. California's is 15.7 percent. And Arizona's is 14 percent.
Also, even though just a few years ago the University of Utah hosted debates on whether members of the LDS Church would vote for Democrats, Congress now has more LDS members who are Democrats than Republicans.
That margin is now 7-6, thanks to wins this year by Democrats Orton (who replaced a Republican LDS member) and Swett (who added a new seat to those held by LDS members).
For the record, the Roman Catholic Church has the most members of Congress: 142. It is followed, in order, by Methodists with 75; Baptists and Episcopalians, 59 each; Presbyterians, 51; Jews, 41; unspecified Protestants, 30; Lutherans, 22; Mormons, 13; United Church of Christ, 12; Church of Christ, 4; and eight other churches with one or two members each.
Women and blacks will also have record numbers in Congress.
Congress will have 31 women - four more than the 101st Congress had at its opening. That is still only 5.7 percent of Congress, although women constitute more than half the population and more than half the number of voters.
Blacks will have a record 26 members. That is 4.8 percent of Congress, while they constitute about 12 percent of the population.
Also of note, Rep.-elect Gary Franks, R-Conn., became the first black Republican voting member of the House elected since 1932. Before 1932, according to Roll Call newspaper, all blacks elected to the House were Republican. Since then - until this year - all voting-member blacks elected were Democrats.