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What Are the Different Types of State Politicians?

The US Capitol building.
Nebraska is represented state-wide by only 49 Senators.
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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2014
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In the United States, the government in general is broken down to a federal and state level, and the state politicians that represent each state locally were originally designed to mirror the organizational structure of representatives that the states send to serve at the federal level at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. This means that every state had two senators that it sends to Washington, D.C., and a varying number of House of Representative members depending on the population of each state, for a total of 100 senators and a fixed total of 435 House of Representatives members from all states combined serving in Washington, D.C. on behalf of their states.

Federal representation by state politicians is only the tip of the iceberg, however, for the actual number of state politicians that each state has representing it overall. Each state also generally has one Senator and two House or Assembly members per congressional district who work within the confines of the state government itself, as well as one governor per state. These total numbers vary greatly by state depending on how many congressional districts it has. The national total of state Senators and House or Assembly members as of 2003 stood at 7,382 state congressional representatives, with California having the largest number at 424 and Nebraska having the smallest number at 49.

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The law for the number of state representatives varies slightly from state to state. Examples that illustrate the breakdown are Arizona, with an even 30 congressional districts and 90 representatives from 30 Senators and 60 House members, and Washington state with 147 congressional representatives from 49 Senators and 98 House members. Nebraska, however, has neither an Assembly or House of Representatives chamber, and is represented state-wide by only 49 Senators.

The governance of state-level politics is further broken down in the US by individual states with representatives for local counties, municipalities, townships, and school districts. These representatives are often referred to as assemblymen, and, in many cases, serve together in groups known as boards, such as local school boards that are designated with the role of directing public education policy. Local governance also has state politicians that mirror the role of the state governor, such as elected mayors that control city government, and city councils that advise the mayor.

All together, it is difficult to count the total number of state politicians that exist in the US at any one time, as they are based on boundary lines for counties, cities, and congressional districts that change as populations grow. Overall, there are estimated to be 178,525 local divisions of government administration in the US, from counties to municipalities, townships, and school districts. Each region has its own state politicians that serve as its local representatives.

The reason that there are so many state politicians is due to the way that districts were first set up when the states were formed. In the early 18th to 19th century congressional districts were sized based on the distance that a horse and buggy could travel in a day, and with the understanding that the average major city had a population of 30,000 or less. This made each district very small by 2011 standards. Each Senator, House, or Assembly representative was elected to have a local affiliation with their cities and congressional districts of a population of 30,000, but, as of 2011, these areas have grown to an average population closer to 700,000. Despite the growth of population and rapid transit capabilities, most state congressional districts have maintained the general size that they were assigned over a century ago.

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