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Meet the GOP Freshmen, From Cotton Farms, Funeral Homes and the NFL

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More than 80 new Republican lawmakers are heading to Washington as a result of last Tuesday's "shellacking" of the Democrats in the midterm elections.

But the first thing to know about the soon-to-be Capitol Hill insiders is that many of them are truly outsiders. Of the 87 incoming GOP freshmen in the House, a whopping 35 have never served in any elective office in their lives. With six medical doctors, three car dealers, two funeral directors, a former FBI agent, a pizza restaurant owner and a Northwest Airlines pilot in the ranks, they will be the most unconventional group of citizen-legislators to head to Washington in decades.

Beyond their broad range of careers, the new group will also be the most diverse GOP class in House history, with five new Latino members, two African-Americans and nine women adding to the ranks of the current Republican House.

Jaime Herrera, Jon RunyanAdd in the son of a former vice president, a 1990s reality show star, and a guy named Bob Dold, and the freshmen of the 112th Congress are sure to change not only the the face of Congress, but also the GOP. Here are the class of 2011's rising stars:

* Tim Scott, South Carolina. Along with Allen West of Florida, Scott will be one of the first two Republican African-Americans to serve in the House since J.C. Watts retired in 2002, giving the party a much-needed dose of diversity in Washington. A charismatic member of the South Carolina state House of Representatives, Scott soundly defeated Paul Thurmond, the son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, in the GOP primary and went on to win the general election with 67 percent of the vote. Scott was the first black Republican in the South Carolina Legislature since Reconstruction and will be the first black Republican to represent the state in Congress. Look for Scott to be front and center in the national GOP's messaging in their efforts to expand their base and win new voters.

* Kristi Noem, South Dakota. Noem is one of at least seven new women coming to Washington to join the House GOP (two more women, Ann Marie Buerkle and Renee Ellmers are awaiting their results). But the 38-year-old mother of three, who is described by friends as having "a backbone of steel," promises to be a breakout star for the GOP. Not only did the telegenic cattle rancher knock out the incumbent, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, for South Dakota's at-large House seat, her previous job as the assistant majority leader in the South Dakota House of Representatives makes her more than just another mama grizzly.

* Jaime Herrera. The 32-year-old Washington state legislator is one of five new Latino House members joining the Republican caucus in 2011, but it won't be her first time in the Capitol. The former congressional aide once worked for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), a top Republican in the House leadership, and used her experiences to out-raise and out-perform her male opponents in the primary and general elections. The NRCC pegged Herrera as a rising star, this summer, a prediction that proved to be right.

* Stephen Fincher, Tennessee. If you're looking for the ultimate citizen legislator heading into the 112th Congress, look no further than Fincher, a gospel-singing farmer from Frog Jump, Tennessee, who wowed Republican leaders in 2009 during his first-ever trip to Washington to talk about running for Congress. Over the next year, the seventh-generation cotton farmer, who never attended college and has never held elective office, swamped his opponents with a talent for raising campaign cash and a farm-friendly slogan in his Tennessee district, "Plow Congress." Fincher won his primary with 60 percent of the vote and the general election with more than that, flipping a long-held Democratic seat to the GOP and winning praise from party leaders in the process.

* Jon Runyan, New Jersey. The former Philadelphia Eagles lineman, 36, is a political novice, but used his outsider status to trounce the local tea party candidate in his GOP primary with 59 percent of the vote, then defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. John Adler in November. "People always question my experience in politics," Runyan said in his victory speech after the GOP primary. "Yes, I have no experience raising taxes over and over again. Yes, I have no experience increasing the debt. Do you really think the people who created these problems are going to be able to solve them?" Runyan follows in the footsteps of former NFLers Jack Kemp, Steve Largent and current Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) in the gridiron-to-Washington career path.

* Sean Duffy, Wisconsin. Duffy may be the most photographed incoming member of the House, having made his name as a cast member of the MTV reality show "The Real World, Boston." But the former World Lumberjack champion left Hollywood behind when he married Rachel Campos (a fellow "Real World" alum) and moved home to Wisconsin to start a family and work as a lawyer. Now a father of six, Duffy has spent the last 10 years working as a local prosecutor and county district attorney. If TV veterans like Fred Grandy (Gopher from "The Love Boat") and Ben Jones (Cooter from "The Dukes of Hazard") can make it in Congress, Duffy can count on a fast rise in his new House as well.

* Ben Quayle, Arizona. The kids of famous politicians often find themselves gliding up the ranks of American politics -- think Kennedy and Bush and you've got the idea. But Ben Quayle, the 34-year-old son of former Vice President Dan Quayle had to raise more than a million dollars, distance himself from a racy website called "DirtyScottsdale," and fight his way out of a nine-way dog fight to win his house seat in Arizona, and that was just to get past the GOP primary. While his father was more of the shy and retiring Washington type, the younger Quayle came out swinging during his campaign, even cutting one ad attacking Barack Obama as "the worst president in history." In the same commercial, Quayle also declared, "Someone has to go to Washington and knock the hell out of the place." With a promise like that, journalists and fellow lawmakers alike are waiting to see how Quayle delivers.
Filed Under: The Capitolist

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Mary Stokes

Dan Quayle has no respect for himself nor President Barack Obama. Nonetheless, he is the type of person we want to run the country. It is ironic he think of the president being the dumpest president we ever had; when his father has some issues with spelling potatoes,and tomatoes!! He is struggling with a poor self images. His perception his murky; his judgement,and his insight is imparied. D>Q has no character.

November 14 2010 at 1:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Most of them on both sides are crooks, after one thing, to line their own pockets at the expense of the American people. What we need is a no confidence vote like they have in England so we can vote people out at anytime not just every 2 or 4 years. Also the pay should be based on the salary of the average American as well as the benifit package. Deduct missed commitee meetsing and votes from their salary as well. Make a simple majority enough to pass most bills and require a balance budget thru a conustional admentment. Limit spending on campains to a certain amount and outlaw all PAC's. I know these things will never happen with the foxes guarding the hen house.

November 11 2010 at 9:45 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Da Doo Ron Ron

REPUBLICANS-- so, what are your plans? Are you going to propel us all forward, or spend th enext few years denying, chastising, punishing, preventing, and basically attempting to keep the status quo? I.e., keeping Republican money in the hands of RICH Republicans, ably and blindly supported by your clueless lower-class constituency ? Keep feeding them emotional issues that have NOTHING to do with the economy, and you will stay in power forever. HA... imagine coasting to power on the fact that so many Republicans are concerned with what two men do together in bed? Says a lot ...

November 09 2010 at 1:45 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Da Doo Ron Ron's comment

Name me one sitting congressional office holder or one representative who isn't rich. Any one of them. Democrat, Republican, Independent. Name one who could not survive the remainder of their life with the money they have. You can't. They are ALL rich, and while we sit here at home watching TV and surfing the net they garner favors for cash, votes for gifts, and continue to get graft. It's not "those rich republicans" when they are ALL rich and continue to get richer.

November 13 2010 at 4:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
carol lowery

Forida elected Rubio who is Cuban American. He recently said that he does not want his country to become like the country of his parents who fled it for freedom. Watch this young man, I hope he goes far and he has been in politics for some time in the state.

November 09 2010 at 1:08 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

All I know for sure is that Congress is now more reprentative of Americans. We have also discovered first timers, unfamiliar to the general public, can win election. Here in Wisconsin, ex Senator Russ Feingold was defeated by a businessman and David Obey, he of the highest levels of abrasiveness quit but the democrat running to succeed him failed. WELL DONE VOTERS! and I mean everywhere.

November 09 2010 at 12:20 PM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bill's comment

I know a lot of people are tired of what LAWYERS have done to this country.

November 09 2010 at 12:50 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply

All I know for sure is that Congress is now more reprentative of Americans. We have also discovered first timers, unfamiliar to the general public, can win election. Here in Wisconsin, ex Senator Russ Feingold was defeated by a businessman and David Obey, he of the highest levels of abrasiveness quit but the democrat running to succeed him failed. WELL DONE VOTERS! and I mean everywhere.

November 09 2010 at 12:20 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

With 6 more Doctors plus what Drs. are in the Senate you will have alot of input on the Healthcare Bill and from the right people too. No more lawyers please, they know to many loopholes.

November 09 2010 at 12:19 PM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gidget6368's comment
carol lowery

We have one doctor already in Congress, at least, I hope he was reelected. He has been trying to get Congress to accept what us little taxpayers get stuck with.

November 09 2010 at 12:43 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Mark Mason

And for a reward for getting elected we the people will give them 100% medical for them and their familys the right to vote themselves a raise whenever they see fit and 100% retierment with medical and they are not held to doing what is right for the country or the people on pain of not getting re-elected, what a job

November 09 2010 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mark Mason's comment

Another post condemning people who have not even been innaugerated yet. We keep hearing how Obama has only had 2 years so how can you criticize those who haven't even had a chance to govern yet.

November 09 2010 at 12:54 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

We are in real trouble as a nation. I said this when George Bush was President and was right and now we are headed back to hell in a handbasket. Thier primary focus now is to grant the highest 2% of earners with a tax cut that will cost over $780Billion dollars that will not be paid for. This was thier same agenda for 8 years which drove the country into the hole we are in now. They have never came up with one idea that served the middle class (who by the way carry this country) God save us and our children!

November 09 2010 at 12:10 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Qawwee's comment

I thought the Bush tax cuts were for all individuals who pay taxes, not just the top 2%? Obviously the top 2% would get more because they pay more in taxes. I also thought that the top 5% pay 50% of the taxes in this country & also provide jobs for millions of people so I am failing to see how the middle class is carrying this country.

November 09 2010 at 2:01 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
Big Ruby

Now that we have a solid majority in the House of Representatives, plus many of the state legislatures, I hope we can convince a couple of conservative-leaning Democrat senators to switch parties (WVa, for instance). Also, I hope that some of the states can un-gerrymander the kind of districts that allow people like Pelosi (or my Representative -- Jerrold Nadler) to get reelected with no effort, no expenditure, no justification for holding on to their lucrative, perk-filled jobs.

November 09 2010 at 12:10 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Big Ruby's comment

Well, I checked out and found out that Nadler (whom you claim as your Representative) is from New York's 8th Congressional District and according to , Pelosi represents California's 8th District. Let me offer my condolences that you don't have the representation that you want in Congress, but I can't imagine why you, having especially claimed to be against gerrymandering, would be concerned about who some people way off in California would pick to represent them. Perhaps, it would do you good to check out . That's Google's list of about 204,000 sites that reference the phrase "beeswax, minding one's own".

November 15 2010 at 12:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


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