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Georgia tops most states in Senate resignations -- but not for the reason you think

WASHINGTON -- It's an interesting moment to be in the Nation's Capital.

Sexual assault allegations here have been flying at head-spinning speed. So have the resulting resignations. Yesterday was bookended by two of them: U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.

In general, the early exit of sitting U.S. senators has been a rarity throughout American history. Before this week, only 322 of them have occurred since 1789, according to nifty graphics from the Senate Historical Office compiled by CNN.

Per that data, Georgia trails only Massachusetts in the number of resignations over the last 228 years (19 vs. 20).

Most of those resignations, however, were not because of sexual assault allegations or other scandals. Most were from senators taking new jobs in the executive branch, statewide posts Georgia or in the private sector, according to the data.

The most recent resignation of a Georgia senator came more than one hundred years ago, when Joseph Terrell stepped down several months after suffering a stroke. The former governor then worked as a lawyer until his death a year later.

Two came in 1861, when southern states seceded at the outset of the Civil War.

The numbers don't include retirements, since those are announced ahead of time, or senators who died in office or were defeated for reelection.

CNN has the full list of Georgia U.S. senators who resigned here.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.