How to Address a United States Senator



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HONOR & RESPECT

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   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Q&A / Blog On
       Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    
 

   3. Q&A / Blog on
       How to Address
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How to Address a United States Senator

All about The Honorable
Link to Q&A just on officials in the U.S. addressed as The Honorable


FYI, here is what's come in to the Blog that relates to this office/rank.
   For recent questions sent in, check out Robert Hickey's Blog.

   For specific offices/ranks, check out Robert Hickey's On-Line Guide.


How to Address Senators as Committee Members?
    How would you address two U.S. senators in a letter including their membership in their respective committees? They are not in one common committee. Also .... one senator is on two committees! I am especially interested how you would deal with their titles (one is a ranking member of a committee, the other is a ranking member of a subcommittee). Please provide an example.  Thanks.

 
         -- Doug

Dear Doug:
     Only information pertinent to a letter's content is included in an address and in the address block on the letter.
    So writing a single letter ... to two Senators ... on different committees ... and including their different committee affiliations is not making much sense to me. Membership to committees wouldn't be listed unless the letter's content was to them in regard to their work on the committee.
    I am thinking that if you were writing a letter on immigration, one Senator's membership on the Agriculture committee and the other Senator's membership on the Appropriations committee would not be pertinent.
    But ... perhaps the content is applicable somehow .... so .... address each as shown on on page 176 of my book in the form of a senator as a member of a committee:
  
          The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
  
          Ranking Member
  
       
  The United States Senate Subcommittee on Health Care
    You will need to consider precedence in the order in which to present the names in the letter block  ... and since the letter sound's like an open letter rather than a letter specifically to one or the other ..... order would be by date first elected to the Senate ....
    That is available at on Wikipedia.

 
            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Former Senator?
      Regarding ex-US senators: I get that they remain the Honorable.
      But is it:
             Dear Mr. Santorum,
                       OR
             Dear Senator Santorum,
      -- Rich Hockberry 

Dear Mr. Hockberry:
      Senators serve with many other officials holding the office of senator. There is no singular official who subsequently holds a one-and-only office called The Senator.
    Thus the tradition is that former senators keep the honorific in retirement.
    So for a salutation use: Dear Senator Santorum,

      -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Former Senator and His Wife?
     What is the right way to address a card to a former United States senator and his wife?

            -- VE at Airport Hills

Dear VE:
      When addressing a senator and his wife .. if they use the same surname and she does not have some special form of address of her own (Dr., The Honorable, etc.) ..... the correct form is:
        The Honorable (full name)       
            and Mrs. (surname)
                Address

    The etiquette is that people who have official titles get their [title + name] all together as a unit and not broken up or mixed with another name (Not The Honorable and Mrs. (full name) for example.)
    An on the salutation this is the most formal:
        Dear Senator (surname) and Mrs. (surname):
    What people often want to use ... is not horrible ... but is much less formal:
        Dear Senator and Mrs. (surname):

             -- Robert Hickey

How to Address Two Senators in a Salutation?
     On your website, you covered how to address two married Honorables, but in a letter if they are both Senators, would the salutation of the letter be as follows:
     Dear Senator Smith and Senator Smith,
            OR
     Dear Senators Smith,

           -- Mary in Dallas

Dear Mary:
      In a salutation combining honorifics is typical;
          Dear Drs. Smith,
 
         Dear Professors Smith,
  
     
  Dear Pastors Smith,
    I don't imagine there are many Senators married to another Senator. Most formally each gets a full salutation, which might seem weird, but is actually correct:
          Dear Senator Smith and Senator Smith,
    An slightly less formal option would be:
  
        Dear Senators Smith,
             -- Robert Hickey

How to List & Order - Current & Former Officials?
       We have an upcoming event next week at which both of our current U. S. Senators will be speaking as will one of our former U. S. Senators, a long-serving senator who retired last year.  What is the proper way to differentiate between the current senators and retired senator in the printed program that will be made available to those attending that day?  Is the situation different if a senator or member of congress is defeated in an election instead of retiring?
       This event, sponsored by the University, will be held at our local Air Force Base, so we have political, military, and academic protocol issues coming together at one event.  We want to get things right.

              -- North Dakota Chairman

Dear Dear Mr. Chairman:
       The forms of address for current and retired senators is the same ... so in the program you should differentiate between them with a modifying statement after their name:

              The Honorable Full Name
              Senator for North Dakota

              The Honorable Full Name
             
Senator for North Dakota, 1990-2006

       Precedence of current senators is the one elected first is first.  Precedence of a former is with, but after any current.
       Former senators .... retired or defeated ... continue to use the same forms of address. Exception is a senator who was removed from office: he or she would no longer be addressed as The Honorable.
       I cover all this in my book if this sort of thing comes up often.
       Just in case you haven't, that local Air Force Base you mention has a Protocol Officer with whom you should be coordinating all this.
       I don't know who is the current head of protocol at Ellsworth AFB, but plenty of USAF Protocol Officers are grads of The Protocol School of Washington, so it's likely they use my book.
                -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an US Senator Who is a "Dr."?
     How do I address an envelope to a couple? I know she uses "Mrs. (his name)"; He is a doctor and also a US Senator?

        -- Mrs. Justine Shuman

Dear Mrs. Shuman:
     "Senator" is higher office than "Dr." ... and in the US our tradition is that we only give one honorific/courtesy title at a time ... and we give the highest one the person is entitled to use.  
    So a Senator who is a Dr. and his wife would be as follows
        Envelope:
            The Honorable Henry Wilson
                and Mrs. Wilson
                    (Address)

        Salutation:
            Dear Senator Wilson and Mrs. Wilson:
    However, there are some individuals who have a different preference. For example, Bill Frist, a US Senator from Tenessee preferred to be addressed in conversation as "Dr. Frist".  While some would point out that there are only 100 Senators ... but there are perhaps a million doctors ... and it would note his greater achievement being a "Senator."  BUT it was not his preference ... so everyone addressed him as "Dr. Frist"
    But other Senators who were also medical doctors or who held academic doctorates .... all continued to be addressed as "Senator (surname)".
  So the rules remain the same ... but we address each person as they prefer to be addresses .... and the rules remain.
             -- Robert Hickey


Not Finding Your Question Answered?
Below are other topics covered in my blog and at right is a list of officials, Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     After hunting around a bit, if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – with your name and any personal specifics changed.
      -- Robert Hickey

USE OF NAMES & HONORIFICS   
Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
 
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

USE OF SPECIFIC OFFICIAL TITLES        
Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services, Active Duty             
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
           
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
           
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

SPECIFIC SITUATIONS
Business Cards       
Couples        
Etiquette
            
Flags and Anthem Protocol             
Introductions
            
Invitations: Writing & Addressing
        
Invitations: Just Armed Service Personnel        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
         
Thank You Notes             


Site updated by Robert Hickey on April 17, 2014

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For forms of address for invitations, place cards, name badges, introductions, conversation, and all other formal uses, see Honor & Respect: the Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address.

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Photo: Marc Goodman.





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