Senators' surprising hobbies to de-stress over the holidays

Courtesy: Instagram/@clairecmc
Courtesy: Instagram/@clairecmc (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

Chance Seales, Media General National Correspondent – WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – When senators leave the nation's biggest pressure cooker for the holidays, they have some interesting ways of de-stressing.

We're talking python hunting, competitive bowling, and Taylor Swift concerts.

While in Washington, the women of the Senate make it a priority to get together once a month and connect personally – no partisanship, and definitely no men, allowed.

The all-female group, wrangled by Senate matriarch Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), dropped by the White House bowling alley in November. The only detectable politics on display were the red and blue custom bowling shirts.

When senators head back home, it gets even more colorful.


Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) hikes the beautiful trails of California with her family. After 30+ years of service in Washington, Boxer is set to retire at the end of her current term and enjoy life in the Golden State.



Considering Congress' low approval rating, some might say Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) probably feels fairly comfortable around snakes, given his day job. But, when he travels to the Florida Everglades, Nelson gets even more {"url":"https:\/\/twitter.com\/SenBillNelson\/status\/292004510648373248","author_name":"Bill Nelson","author_url":"https:\/\/twitter.com\/SenBillNelson","html":"\u003Cblockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\"\u003E\u003Cp lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"\u003EPythons proved to be elusive in the warm weather. None caught today. \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/t.co\/05cMfygF\"\u003Epic.twitter.com\/05cMfygF\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/twitter.com\/SenBillNelson\/status\/292004510648373248\"\u003EJanuary 17, 2013\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/blockquote\u003E\n\u003Cscript async src=\"\/\/platform.twitter.com\/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"\u003E\u003C\/script\u003E","width":550,"height":null,"type":"rich","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_name":"Twitter","provider_url":"https:\/\/twitter.com","version":"1.0"}

" target="_blank">hands on, helping python hunters rid state swamps of the enormous reptiles.


Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) is half-senator, half-professional student. The energetic lawmaker posts regularly from school visits, where he gives students a real life civics lesson.


U.S. senators don't come more charismatic than Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). So, when the legislator visits home, he frequents Friday night football games, where he cheers on the hometown players and makes new friends in the crowd.

New York

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) stays active, making it a family affair. She and her boys ran in a Turkey Trot over Thanksgiving. A full marathon might make for an extra happy Christmas, considering Gillibrand told Glamour, "On the days I work out, not only am I friendlier and nicer, I'm more productive!"

The boys participated in their first 1 mile @TroyTurkeyTrot today, had so much fun! #HappyThanksgiving #TroyNY

A photo posted by Kirsten Gillibrand (@kirstengillibrand) on

North Carolina

As President Harry Truman famously said, if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) took that to heart, spending lots of away time with two of the cutest pups in North Carolina.


Rob Portman (R-Ohio) ditches the suit when he hits Lake Erie. Clad in camouflage, the Ohio senator paddles a boat with friends – including a furry one – when he goes duck hunting.


Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) hits the slopes, skiing his state's white powder along with his daughter.

South Dakota

John Thune (R-S.D.) is the Senate's third highest-ranking Republican and a big pheasant hunting enthusiast. And, apparently, the upper chamber's No. 1 Taylor Swift fan. Thune posted a picture with his daughters at Swift's 1989 tour.

BTW - Taylor was born in 1989, and according to Thune's official bio, he returned to South Dakota to become the state GOP's executive director in the same year.


Philanthropy is the name of John Cornyn's (R-Tex.) vacation game. During the holidays, the Senate's second-in-command Republican takes time to carve up turkeys and pitch in at shelters for his state's neediest residents.

Once 2016 arrives, it will be time for the State of the Union, omnibus bill, presidential primaries and pop-up Capitol Hill skirmishes.

But for the holidays, 100 of Washington's most powerful people are just like us – minus the pythons.

Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales