Published January 13, 2015
For as long as royal families have ruled, power has been a family affair.
And while there may be no royalty in America, families such as the Kennedys, the Gores, and the Bushes have spent generations atop the pinnacle of American power.
"Forty percent of all our politically active in America come from the 10% most politically active families," says political scientist Joel Lieske of Cleveland State University. Lieske says this de facto domestic royalty system is one reason so many states have term limits — to help purge the system of lifelong political pros.
But some politicians are finding a way to work around the term limits restrictions, simply by having a family member to pick up where they left off.
Term limits became law in Ohio last year, forcing 40 lawmakers from office. But several state leaders facing the limit passed the political torch to their spouses.
Diane Grendell, a Republican, spent eight years as a state representative representing the district of Chesterland, and then came against her term limit. So now her husband, Tim Grendell, is continuing in her place.
"Diane was looking to see who might be there to run to replace her and share the same values and the same political philosophy — and she concluded I was the person," Tim Grendell told Fox News.
And Barbara Sykes, a Democrat, was just elected to the office previously held by her husband Vernon at the Ohio House of Representatives.
"Some of his concerns are my concerns," Barbara Sykes said. "Some of his issues are mine and some of his issues are not mine."
As more states enact term limits, profesor Lieske says more politicians are likely to try to turn their office into a family business. There are no laws against doing that.