The Is the Poorest Member of the Senate
U.S. representatives and senators are elected to Capitol Hill to represent the interests of all Americans. However, based on the reported net worth of sitting U.S. senators, it appears that many legislators may be unable to relate to the day-to-day lives of ordinary people.
Senators are paid a salary of $174,000 per year. That is more than triple the average wage across all American workers of $53,490 and higher than the median earnings of even the best-paying jobs in America. Senate majority and minority leaders make even more: $193,400 annually. Further, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve, the typical American family has a net worth of about $97,300. Meanwhile, the estimated median net worth among sitting U.S. senators is around $2.4 million.
Using data compiled by OpenSecrets.org, a nonprofit research organization, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the estimated net worth of sitting U.S. senators. Net worth figures are rounded estimates derived from financial disclosure forms filed in 2019 and are not necessarily comprehensive or exact. We also reviewed senator approval ratings in the fourth quarter of 2019 from Morning Consult, a public opinion research company.
Wealth is not necessary to run for national office. In fact, a handful of lawmakers have financial liabilities that outweigh their assets. Still, these senators are the exceptions to the rule.
Campaigning requires significant investments of time and money that working-class Americans may have more trouble shouldering than wealthier ones. High-net-worth Americans also are more likely to be well connected and acquainted with powerful business leaders and other affluent individuals, which can prove critical for campaign fundraising.
Of course, a politician’s popularity is subject to a wide range of factors. While being worth millions of dollars may make it more difficult for senators to relate to the hardships faced by many of their constituents, net worth does not appear to have a meaningful effect on approval ratings. Senators with high approval ratings fall on either end of the wealth spectrum, as do their less popular counterparts. Here is a look at America’s most and least popular senators.
The poorest member of the U.S. Senate is Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat. In 2018, she had an estimated net worth of an extremely modest $32,500. Stabenow assumed office on January 3, 2001, and her current term ends in 2025. Her approval rating splits thus: 44% approve and 35% disapprove.
Stabenow, who is 70, previously was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She represented Michigan’s 8th congressional district from 1991 through 2001. She was born in Gladwin, Michigan, one of the more remote towns in the state.
Stabenow is at the far end of the pay spectrum from America’s richest senator. Republican Kelly Loeffler of Georgia has an estimated net worth of $500 million.
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