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"Watergate Babies" primarily refers to the Democrats first elected to the United States Congress in 1974, following President Richard Nixon's resignation over the Watergate scandal, on August 9, 1974.
Tom Downey was the youngest among the babies—being age 25 upon his election, it is the minimum age at which one can serve . Former Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) was also elected to Congress in this election cycle. In November 1974, Democrats picked up 49 seats in the House and 5 in the Senate. This group greatly increased the strength of Northerners and liberals in the House Democratic Caucus. They teamed up with some more senior liberals to strike a blow against the seniority system and overthrew three committee chairmen whom they viewed as too conservative and/or too old to represent the Democratic Party in these prominent positions: William Poage, Wright Patman and Edward Hebert.
Six of these Watergate Babies are current members of the U.S. Congress:
- First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974:
"Watergate Babies" can also apply to those Democrats elected to state or local office in 1974. "Democrats made substantial state legislative gains in a large number of states in 1974, the Watergate election," the political scientist Malcom Jewell wrote. Numerous states passed sweeping ethics and public disclosure reforms in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. The Center for Public Integrity has compiled a state by state account of governmental political corruption watchdogs, many with roots in the post-Watergate era. A prominent Watergate baby of 1974 now serving again as Governor of California is Jerry Brown.
"Watergate Babies" has also been used to apply to journalists who entered journalism because of their fascination with the Watergate scandal. "Watergate," David Baumann wrote, "also created a generation of journalists who were not willing to accept politicians at their word. If the journalists who helped uncover the scandal, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, could expose the crimes of a president, then certainly there were crooked politicians elsewhere. Those journalists believed in investigative reporting and became watchdogs who attempted to keep politicians honest."
- Sullivan, Joseph F. (September 14, 1980). "Maguire Faces Rerun Of Tight '78 Race". The New York Times. p. 46. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- Miller, Judith (October 26, 1980). "Democrats Expected To Hold Their Majorities In Congress". The New York Times. p. 40. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- Irene Jay Liu, "A 70's flashback at Capitol," December 14, 2009, timesunion.com , http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/A-70s-flashback-at-capitol-555390.php#page-2 & jgallagher, "The last of the Watergate babies," April 2, 2007, Democrat and Chronicle.com, http://blogs.democratandchronicle.com/political/?p=255
- AMERICAN STATE POLITICAL PARTIES AND ELECTIONS, page 228 (1982)
- STATE GOVERNMENT, Volumes 65-66 (1992), page 35. Ronald J. Hrenebar, Clive G. Thomas, INTEREST GROUP POLITICS IN THE NORTHEASTERN STATES, page 369
- "Watchdogs," "Accountability: Waste, Fraud and Abuse," http://www.publicintegrity.org/accountability/waste-fraud-and-abuse/watchdogs
- Madison Taylor, "Confessions of a Watergate baby," the times-news.com, May 17, 2013, http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/local-columnists/madison-taylor/confessions-of-a-watergate-baby-1.144812
- David Baumann, "The Legacy of Watergate," About.com US Politics, June 18, 2011, http://uspolitics.about.com/b/2011/06/18/the-legacy-of-watergate.htm
- "Rebels of '94 and 'Watergate Babies' Similar In Class Size, Sense of Zeal" at All Politics CNN