West Virginia became the 35th state to join the Union on June 20, 1863. West Virginia’s first two senators, Peter Van Winkle and Waitman Willey, took office on August 4, 1863. West Virginia’s longest-serving senators include Jennings Randolph (1958-1985), Jay Rockefeller (1985-2015), and Robert C. Byrd, who is, to date, the longest-serving senator (1959-2010). Senator Byrd also served in numerous leadership positions, including president pro tempore and Democratic Conference secretary, whip, and floor leader.

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