The death of MP Don Young, a Republican from Alaska who has served in Congress since 1973, makes Christopher Smith (R-Manchester) the second member of the US House of Representatives.
Young died on Friday during a flight between Los Angeles and Seattle, reports The Anchorage Daily News. He was 88.
The new dean of the House of Representatives is Hal Rogers, an 84-year-old Republican from Kentucky.
Rogers and Smith were elected in 1980, but because seniority for members of Congress sworn in on the same day is done in alphabetical order, Rogers is considered older than Smith.
But Smith is 15 years younger than Rogers and is likely to become dean of the House of Representatives while holding on to his Republican seat in New Jersey’s 4th District.
Young won the 1973 snap election after MP Nick Begic was pronounced dead. Begic campaigned for re-election for a second term when a small plane carrying him and House Majority Leader Hale Boggs disappeared during an Alaska election campaign. The plane and the remains of the two congressmen were never found. Begic was posthumously re-elected in 1972, defeating Young by twelve percentage points.
Boggs had ties to New Jersey. His daughter was Barbara Boggs Sigmund, former mayor of Princeton, Freeholder of Mercer County, and a candidate for governor from the Democratic Party in 1989. Her grandson Paul Sigmund was also a freelancer of Mercer County.
Young was the last incumbent congressman to serve in the House of Representatives with New Jersey’s John Hunt (R-Pitman), Charles Sandman (R-Erma), Frank Thompson (D-Trenton), Peter Frelinghaisen (R-Harding), Andrew. D-Ridgewood), William Widdle (R-Saddle River), Joseph Maraziti (R-Boonton), Helen Miner (D-Phillipsburg), Henry Helstoski (D-East Rutherford), Dominic Daniels (D-Jersey City), Joseph Lefante (D-Bayonne) and Edward Patten (D-Perth Amboy).
Young’s death moves MP Frank Palone Jr. to 8th place on the House of Representatives. He won the 1988 snap election to replace the late MP James Howard (D-Spring Lake Heights).