Freshman Class Leaders
Freshman Class Presidents
Since at least the 1940s, first-term Representatives, commonly known as freshmen, have selected Members of their election class to represent their interests before party leadership. Each party cohort elects its own class president, who help develop and communicate policy goals and build relationships.
The term “class president” has been used since the 1980s, but freshman leaders have gone by a variety of titles over the years.1 Edith Green of Oregon, leader of the Democratic class of 1954, for instance, was known as the president of the “84th Club,” which took its name from the 84th Congress (1955–1957).2 At times, class leaders were also known as chairmen of the Freshman Caucus, or the New Member’s Caucus.3
The chart below includes known freshman leaders from the Democratic and Republican parties. Only Members who served as principal class leaders are listed; Members selected to serve in secondary freshman leadership positions, such as vice president or secretary, are not included. A freshman leader’s term can vary from six months to an entire two-year Congress.4 A freshman class can opt to elect a single president, or two co-presidents.5 Therefore, the number of freshman leaders who have served in each Congress can vary. Due to the relatively informal nature of the position, relevant documentation can be sparse, and information for some Congresses remains unknown.
Freshman Liaisons to House Leadership
In the 103rd Congress (1993–1995), the House Republican Conference created a new leadership position reserved for freshmen.8 The Democratic Caucus created a similar post after the 2016 election.9 In both parties, the position is colloquially referred to as the “freshman liaison” to the leadership—the Democratic Caucus’s rules refer to its freshman leader as the “Freshmen Leadership Representative,” while the Republican Conference rules do not specify an official title.10 In contrast to the more informal position of freshman class president, freshman liaisons hold formal positions in their party’s caucus or conference, which comes with greater access to House leadership. “We were able to communicate with the leadership about our class,” Republican Sue Myrick of North Carolina said of her position as freshman liaison in the 104th Congress (1995–1997). “It was just a good opportunity to have that voice at that table because it was totally different than the other voices that had been at the table before.”11 The following chart lists those Members who held a formal party leadership role as a freshman liaison.
|103rd (1993–1995)||Michael Dean Crapo (R-ID)||N/A|
|104th (1995–1997)||David Martin McIntosh (R-IN)|
Sue Myrick (R-NC)
|105th (1997–1999)||John Thune (R-SD)||N/A|
|106th (1999–2001)||Ernest L. Fletcher (R-KY)||N/A|
|107th (2001–2003)||Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)||N/A|
|108th (2003–2005)||Tom Feeney (R-FL)||N/A|
|109th (2005–2007)||Michael T. McCaul (R-TX)||N/A|
|110th (2007–2009)||Doug Lamborn (R-CO)||N/A|
|112th (2011–2013)||Kristi Noem (R-SD)|
Tim Scott (R-SC)
|113th (2013–2015)||Ann Wagner (R-MO)||N/A|
|114th (2015–2017)||Mimi Walters (R-CA)||N/A|
|115th (2017–2019)||Paul Mitchell (R-MI)||Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI)|
|116th (2019–2021)||Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA)||Veronica Escobar (D-TX)|
Katie Hill (D-CA)
Joseph Neguse (D-CO)
|117th (2021–2023)||Andrew S. Clyde (R-GA)||Mondaire Jones (D-NY)|
1“People Notes: McMillen Elected Freshman President,” 17 March 1988, The Sun (Baltimore, MD): 9; Don Phillips, "House GOP Freshmen Start Fracas," 11 March 1982, United Press International.
2"84th Club Will Hear Rep. McCormick," 7 February 1955, Washington Post: 22.
3"Democrats Tap Solons," 1 April 1971, Daily Chronicle (Centralia, WA): 12; Charles Brownson, Congressional Staff Directory, 1977 (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1977): 380.
4"Rep. Capuano Elected Freshman Class President," official website of Representative Michael Capuano, press release, 9 November 1999, archived at https://webarchive.loc.gov/all/20041127121810/http://www.house.gov/capuano/news/1999/pr110999.htm.
5Todd Gillman, "Colin Allred Elected Freshman Class Co-President by New Democrats in Congress," 28 November 2018, Dallas News, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2018/11/28/colin-allred-elected-freshman-class-co-president-by-new-democrats-in-congress/.
6Elected president of the 80th and 81st Club, comprised of freshman and sophomore House Republicans.
7Elected president of the 84th and 85th Club, comprised of freshman and sophomore House Democrats.
8Ned Martel, “Crapo Elected to Leadership Position,” 9 December 1992, States News Service.
9Dan Nakaso, "Hanabusa Takes Leadership Role Among House Freshman Democrats," 1 December 2016, Star Advertiser (Honolulu, HI): n.p.
10Rules of the House Democratic Caucus, 116th Congress, accessed 5 February 2021, https://www.dems.gov/caucus-rules-of-116th-congress; Rules of the House Republican Conference, 116th Congress, accessed 5 February 2021, https://www.gop.gov/conference-rules-of-the-116th-congress/.
11“The Honorable Sue Myrick Oral History Interview,” Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives (14 March 2016): 36. The interview transcript is available online.