Quick, who was the longest serving member of Congress? Well, up until this week, you could have proudly mentioned Carl Trumbull Hayden of Tempe. As of this week, however, the good Senator Hayden has lost that distinction to Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
Hayden served a term as Sheriff of Maricopa County, then ran for Arizona’s lone congressional seat in the first election when we gained statehood. He went on to be re-elected to that seat until 1926, when he took on the unpopular Senator Ralph Cameron. He managed to snag a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee as one of his first assignments, his skill at delivering pork to Arizona made him inassailable in elections and helped solidify his legacy. He managed to serve in that seat until 1969. His last twelve years in office, he served as President Pro Tempore of the Senate, making him third in line for the presidency from Dwight Eisenhower’s second term until Lyndon Johnson left office.
His time representing Arizona in Congress lasted from the years before World War I until the height of the Vietnam War, from . If you want to get an idea of how many political generations he spanned: the man he defeated, Cameron, was first sworn in as Arizona’s Congressional delegate around the time that Hayden’s successor, Barry Goldwater, was born (Goldwater had left the Senate for a time because of his presidential run, so he wasn’t exactly a spring chicken by that point).
The people he defeated in his elections give you a look at Arizona’s 20th Century political history: Thomas Campbell (the second Governor of Arizona, depending on how you reckon that), A. A. Worsley (the attorney for the Bisbee Deportees), Emma Guild, (the first woman from Arizona to run for federal office, only two years after the passage of the 19th Amendment), and, in his last run for re-election, Evan Mecham. My Grandfather, who had been born around the turn of the last century, had Hayden as either his Representative or Senator for his entire voting career.
There is a story, probably apocryphal, of John F. Kennedy encountering Hayden after Kennedy made a speech. Kennedy said to Hayden, reportedly, “I bet you’ve seen a lot of changes in your time here.” Hayden, the story goes, said, “Yes, we didn’t used to let freshman senators speak.” The Pima County Democratic Party headquarters features a large photograph of Hayden, Kennedy and a young, crew cut sporting Mo Udall.