Yelling “Hey John” at the Capitol Will Turn Many Heads

From a Washington Post story by Maria Luisa Paúl headlined “Yelling ‘Hey John’ at the Capitol Rotunda will turn many heads”:

A new powerhouse is emerging in the U.S. Senate — but this one has nothing to do with politics.

In January, exactly 10 percent of all U.S. senators — 10 out of 100 — will be named John or Jon. Sen.-elect John Fetterman (D-Pa.) will be the latest addition to the John/Jon phenomenon, which was noted on Wednesday by Grace Segers, who covers Congress and politics for the New Republic journal.

When asked by The Washington Post what it feels like to join the cohort of like-named men, Fetterman’s director of communications, Joe Calvello, said: “It’s a name. John is like no other politicians in the country.”

While Calvello insists that Fetterman “is like no one else,” chances are that yelling ‘Hey, John!’ inside the Capitol rotunda could still result in several politicians’ heads turning.

The Senate’s John/Jon ranks include members of both parties. And even though it is a common name for American men, it is still overrepresented among the senatorial ranks — and underscores the Senate’s demographics, said Sophie Kihm, the editor in chief of Nameberry, a site devoted to baby names.

The Social Security Administration tracked the most popular names for births in the last 100 years. John was ranked No. 3 with more than 4.4 million babies given the name, behind James and Robert.

Both John and Jon were particularly popular in the 1950s — the decade in which most of the Johns or Jons in the Senate were born — when the names accounted for more than 4 percent of baby boys’ names, Kihm said.

“The average age of U.S. senators is 64.3 years old, making the average birth year roughly 1959,” Kihm said. The 2021 Senate was the oldest in the country’s history, The Post previously reported. When it comes to the John/Jon cohort, their ages range from 35 to 71 — with their median age 68.

Since the 1950s, John and Jon have dipped in popularity, Kihm added. Last year, only 0.44 percent of boys were named John, she said.

But even as other names — say Jacob, Joshua or Matthew — gained popularity in the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s, there has been one constant in Congress: There has always been a John.

Even during the 16 sessions in which a John or Jon wasn’t sworn in, there has always been at least one senator named John in office, according to congressional records. It might have to do with the fact that John was also the most popular name in the U.S. until 1923, Kihm said.

However, Jons — mind the missing “H” — didn’t burst onto the Senate scene until 1995, when then-Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was sworn in. Three Democratic Jons followed — Sens. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) — making Kyl the lone GOP Jon. Tester and Ossoff are still in the Senate.

Those with the more traditional spelling that includes the “H” have leaned Republican. Six of the 10 Johns — traditional spelling here — set to serve as senators in the 118th Congress are members of the GOP: Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Boozman (Ark.), John Cornyn (Tex.), John Hoeven (N.D.), John Kennedy (La.) and John Thune (S.D.).

Fetterman and Sen. John W. Hickenlooper (D-Col.) are the outliers, with the other Democrats spelling their name J-O-N.

And John isn’t just a popular name in the Senate. Four of the 45 U.S. presidents have been named John.

So, if you’re a John or a Jon, perhaps it’s time to consider a political run.

María Luisa Paúl is a reporter on The Washington Post’s Morning Mix team. She joined The Post as an intern on the General Assignment desk and has previously reported at the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

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