Maryland’s Mikulski to replace Margaret Chase Smith as longest-serving female senator

Posted Jan. 04, 2011, at 2:54 p.m.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski will become the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

Mikulski recalled in an interview that when she was first sworn in as a senator in 1987, the chamber was a “guys’ club” and that she and the other female senator at the time were not allowed in the gym where the male senators socialized. She said she believes her plainspoken, wisecracking personality was a powerful tool for breaking down barriers.

Mikulski notes that the Senate now has 17 female members — the total number that had served before her election.

The previous longest-serving female senator, Republican Margaret Chase Smith, represented Maine for 24 years, serving until 1973.

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