7 senators who became US president: will Sanders or Warren be next?

Elizabeth Warren

Donald Trump held no elected office before winning last November’s presidential election, but which senators have won the White House?

No less than sixteen United States senators have gone on to serve as President of their country - that’s almost one in three of the total. Who were they?

1. Barack Obama

Trump’s Democratic predecessor served as a US Senator from Illinois between 2005 and 2008, ducking out half-way through his term when he won the presidency against Republican John McCain. Before serving in the US senate, Obama was a

senator in the Illinois state senate between 1997 and 2004.

Barack Obama Speech

2. Richard Nixon

The next most recent president to have also served in the senate was the controversial Republican Richard Nixon. Nixon started his national political career as a member of the House of Representatives for California, serving between 1947 and 1950.

He was then elected to the US senate for California, and serving between 1950 and 1953, before becoming Dwight Eisenhower’s VP following his landslide victory. Eight years after that, Nixon ran for president, but lost to the DemocratsJFK, but finally became president another eight years later in a presidential battle against Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

After securing a second term he left office following the Watergate scandal and was replaced by the unelected Gerald Ford.

Richard Nixon Badge

3. Lyndon B. Johnson

Johnson became US president in 1963 following the earth-stopping assassination of John F. Kennedy who had been elected to the office three years previously. Born in Texas, Johnson started his national political career in the House of Representatives, serving between 1937 and 1949. His time in the House ended when he won election to the Senate in 1948.

After twelve years in the Senate, where he served as majority whip, then minority leader, and then majority leader, LBJ was picked to be JFK’s running-mate for the 1960 election, which they subsequently won.

4. John F. Kennedy

Born in Massachusetts, Kennedy went on to represent his state in both the House and the Senate. He served in the House for four years before joining the Senate in 1953. Kennedy won a second term in the 1958 election, but stepped down from his seat when he won the 1960 presidential election. The rest is history.

John F. Kennedy, wife Jacqueline and daughter Caroline.

5. Harry Truman

Truman was picked to be FDR’s running-mate in the 1942 election, and was subsequently elected vice president. FDR’s shock death – just into his fourth term – led to Truman becoming president. Then in 1948, he won a full term at the top of the ticket.

But before joining America’s executive, Truman served as a Missouri senator between 1935 and 1945, only stepping down when he became VP.

6. Warren Harding

Republican Harding began his political career as a state senator for Ohio at the turn of the 20th century before becoming the Lieutenant Governor of Ohio in 1904.

He later served as a US senator from Ohio between 1915 and 1921, before becoming the 29th president of the United States following the 1920 election. He died in 1923, which led to his Vice President Calvin Coolidge becoming president.

7. Benjamin Harrison

This Republican served as an Indiana senator between 1881 and 1887. In the 1888 election, he challenged Democrat Grover Cleveland for the presidency and won, securing his place as America’s 23rd president. Four years later, he lost his re-election bid to Cleveland who therefore became the only president to win to non-consecutive terms.

The other nine senators to go on to win the presidency were Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, John Tyler, William Henry Harrison, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams and James Monroe.

Will the next US president be a former senator?

If Bernie Sanders runs again and beats Donald Trump in 2020, then the next US president will have been a senator. Sanders is currently the independent senator from Vermont and is up for re-election in 2018. Another possible presidential contender is Elizabeth Warren, who is currently a senator from Massachusetts. She too is up for re-election in 2018.

With the two favourite Democratic candidates currently serving as Senators, it is entirely possible that the next president will have been a senator.