Monday, September 27, 2021
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The New Crop of GOP Citizen Legislators

It’s a small crop of 20 out of 435 House seats and 33 Senate seats, but it is a better crop than the Democrat crop of 12. The political pundits who blame the poor Republican results on Republican candidates not reaching out to the women, the poor and minorities are reaching the wrong conclusions. The voters who reelected inept Democrats are to be blamed, and they are going to get just what they deserve instead of what they are hoping for. These voters are the ones who want to figure out ways to get free stuff from the government instead of work and earn a living. These voters are also predisposed to consider any Republican to be a racist, sexist homophobic religious zealot. It’s not possible to reach out to voters like this who are not able to use logic and reason. There are still a few places left where these voters are not in the majority. I have listed below the Republican victors who have not previously held elected office. More Republican citizen legislators are what is needed instead of Republicans trying to get their votes saying that they are also just like Santa Claus.

Cuban-American Ted Cruz’s successful bid to succeed retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison—which came after he easily dispatched a primary opponent who had the strong backing of Texas’s Republican establishment—was seen as an affirmation of the tea party movement’s power.

Summarizing what he would do to enact a conservative agenda, Cruz told National Review,

What it takes is backbone, the willingness to stand and fight for those principles in the face of opposition and derision. Of those who have firm principles, even fewer have the backbones to stand for those principles when the heat is on.

In 2003 he was appointed state solicitor general, making him the youngest person to ascend to the post in the country and the first Hispanic to hold the position in Texas. During his five-year tenure, Cruz argued before the U.S. Supreme Court nine times and participated in a number of high-profile cases, including one in which Texas fought to execute a Mexican citizen who raped and murdered two teenage girls and another in which he defended the display of the Ten Commandments on the state Capitol grounds. Cruz in July 2012 told the Texas Tribune,

We ended up, year after year, arguing some of the biggest cases in the country. There was a degree of serendipity in that, but there was also a concerted effort to seek out and lead conservative fights.

Tom Cotton snagged Arkansas’ last Democratic House district for the Republicans, claiming the seat of the retiring Democratic Rep. Mike Ross. The district’s voters have historically sent Democrats to Congress, and Cotton’s victory was further evidence of the state’s rightward shift. National Republicans have dubbed him a rising star in the party.

Cotton enlisted in the Army in December 2004, turning down suggestions to join the Judge Advocate General Corps. He was deployed to Baghdad in May 2006 as a platoon leader for the 101st Airborne Division, leading daily patrols through the city. In March 2007, he joined the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery, the regiment that guards the Tomb of the Unknowns. He went to Afghanistan in 2008 as an operations officer for a provincial reconstruction team. In an interview with National Journal, he called his time in the military a “great training ground for politics” because it taught him professionalism.

During his military career, he gained some notoriety among conservative bloggers for a letter he wrote to The New York Times editors in 2006. After the paper published an article about the George W. Bush administration’s program to trace financial transactions of people suspected of ties to terrorist organizations, Cotton wrote, “Next time I hear that familiar explosion—or next time I feel it—I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.”

Tales of underdogs can be heartwarming. But tea party-backed Ted Yoho, who upset 12-term Rep. Cliff Stearns in a four-way Republican primary in Florida’s new 3rd District, took more of a “heart-worming” path to Congress: He’s been a veterinarian in north-central Florida for more than 29 years.

He told voters that he wants to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and emphasized his own first-hand perspectives in having run a successful small business and being on the receiving end of regulations and “garbage legislation” from Washington.

But he also promised that his “moral compass” wouldn’t let him be beholden to anyone. He opposes raising taxes, but won’t sign lobbyist and conservative activist Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge on the grounds that a war or other events may leave few alternatives.

Ron DeSantis, winner of the race in Florida’s newly drawn 6th District, is an Ivy League-educated Navy lawyer who did a tour at the U.S. detention center at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq as counselor to Navy SEAL commanders. But he ran for Congress largely to tackle domestic issues, specifically reducing the federal government’s “size, scope, and influence.”

He has written a book, Dreams From Our Founding Fathers, whose title is a play on the name President Obama chose for his memoir, Dreams From My Father. He argued in the book that Obama and like-minded Democrats “have charted a course that is alien to our Republic’s philosophical foundations.”

In the conservative-leaning 19th District along Florida’s southwest coast, brash radio host Trey Radel rode his influence with the district’s sizeable tea party population to a GOP win.

Rodney Davis promoted his work on the board of education for his local church and as the athletic director of the school his three children attend. He stressed the need to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and to cut government spending, though he made an exception for federal Pell Grants (IL-13 has nine colleges and universities).

Susan Brooks, the Republican candidate from Indiana’s 5th District, channels the understated conservatism of the state’s two-term governor, Mitch Daniels.

In October 2001, Brooks was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana by President Bush. Over the next six years, she prosecuted drug kingpins, helped consolidate the Southern District’s counterterrorism apparatus, and drew attention to human trafficking.

Two years after losing to Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler by just 647 votes, Republican attorney Andy Barr got his revenge in Kentucky’s 6th District. Barr’s hard-fought victory came despite redistricting that was intended to benefit Chandler, and underscored how successful Republican candidates could be in red states if they made President Obama the focus of their race.

Barr’s biggest break may have come when Chandler’s campaign attacked one of his ads in which a coal executive was shown as a coal miner, releasing a spot accusing the Republican of playing fast and loose with the truth. But Chandler’s move proved premature when it came out that the executive was a registered miner who was wearing his own hard hat in the spot.

Kerry Bentivolio sees himself as a conservative political newcomer who happened to be in the right place at the right time in Michigan’s 11th district. In 1970, Bentivolio was deployed to Vietnam as an Army infantry rifleman. He would later serve more than 20 years in the Michigan Army National Guard, and do a tour in Iraq, mostly performing administrative work.

In 1999, Ann Wagner became chairwoman of the Missouri GOP, just as Missouri was evolving from a blue state to a red one. In the 2002 elections, both chambers of the General Assembly went Republican for the first time in 54 years. The state’s newfound Republicanism helped boost her to the RNC in 2001. She says of her success, “I’m blessed with a ton of energy.”

Steve Daines’ positions are traditionally Republican. He has said he would support across-the-board spending cuts and a freeze in federal spending at 2008 levels in lieu of tax hikes. He supports repeal of President Obama’s health care law and a requirement for all new regulations to be evaluated for their effects on economic growth and job creation. On energy policy, Daines has said he supports a market-based, all-inclusive approach to new energy sources. Montana is the sixth-largest coal-producing state and sits on part of the Bakken shale formation, one of the nation’s largest accumulations of crude oil.

Republican Richard Hudson, a veteran congressional staffer, captured the 8th District seat by knocking off Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell.

He blamed the incumbent for moving the country toward “skyrocketing debt” and for “out-of-control spending.” To find work for the district’s many laid-off off textile workers, Hudson promised to work to fully fund retraining programs. He also accused his rival of flip-flopping.

I don’t know where my opponent stands on many issues, it depends which day of the week it is.

A self-described history buff, Mark Meadows says that his observations of history and experiences as a businessman drew him to conservative politics. He was the only person who showed up for a precinct meeting of the local Republican Party, thus becoming precinct chair and eventually county chair. He has worked on behalf of GOP candidates for 25 years and was a delegate to state and national Republican conventions.

George Holding gave his first public speech at age 11 to dedicate a statue of his recently deceased father, a prominent banker. He entered Massachusetts’ prestigious Groton School in 1981, the year Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president, and he graduated from Wake Forest University in 1990, a year after Reagan left office. During those years, Holding developed an interest in conservative ideas and worked as a summer intern for North Carolina’s iconic right-wing Republican Sen. Jesse Helms.

Holding remembers Helms as someone who stuck to his core principles and yet took the time to learn about an issue before casting his vote.

Brad Wenstrup joined the Army Reserve in 1998 and served as a combat surgeon in Iraq in 2005 and 2006.

I tell people, it’s the worst thing I ever had to do, but the best thing I ever got to do.

Politics became more intriguing to Wenstrup when he returned from Iraq.

I started to see people in Washington making military decisions that have never served, making health care plans that have never seen a patient or dealt with insurance companies or Medicaid and Medicare.

In 1998 Jim Bridenstine joined the Navy and became a pilot of the E-2 Hawkeye, an airborne command and control plane. As a naval officer, he served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, flying combat missions and logging more than 1,900 flight hours. He transitioned to flying the F-18 Hornet with the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center in Nevada in 2004.

He said in an interview the following.

So many things came together in a perfect storm. I think the electorate was looking for viable candidates who would oppose incumbents.

Markwayne Mullin was born in Tulsa and grew up in Westville, a small town on the Arkansas line, as the youngest of seven children. His father ran a small plumbing business, which Mullin took over at age 19 after briefly attending Missouri Valley College. He expanded the company from six employees to more than 100. He also hosted a local talk show advising callers on home repair.

Mullin, a Cherokee, operates the Oklahoma Fight Club in Broken Arrow, a training center for jujitsu and mixed martial arts. He earned an associate’s degree in business in 2010 from the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee.

Keith Rothfus grew up in Endicott, N.Y., near Binghamton, casting his first vote for Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in 1980.

When Ronald Reagan started talking about empowering people in the private sector, keeping tax rates low, it made a lot of sense to me. He brought peace through strength. He respected traditional values.

Rothfus lists as his top priorities the “Three Rs”: repealing “Obamacare,” reforming tax and spending policies, and rolling back regulation. He also calls for transforming southwest Pennsylvania into an energy capital.

Rothfus said that his background in commercial negotiations should give him the skills necessary to bring members of both parties together.

I like to fix problems. I have a reputation in my professional work, negotiating contracts, where I’ve gone into deals where other people haven’t closed the deal, and I’ve been able to get it done. We need to work with people of goodwill in both parties and start to tackle problems we have.

Roger Williams ran on what he called a “pretty simple” platform.

It’s lower taxes, less government, cut the spending, defend the borders, listen to your generals, and understand the 10th Amendment.

He generated controversy when he called President Obama a socialist at a campaign event, but he said he saw no reason to apologize.

Here’s a man that wants to own the banks, the car manufacturers, the student-loan programs. It’s basically socialism versus entrepreneurialism and capitalism. That’s what we’re fighting.

Chris Stewart is a fervent believer in American exceptionalism. He is fond of quoting Abraham Lincoln’s description of the United States as “the last, best hope of Earth.” Like other recently elected GOP political newcomers, Stewart ran for office because he believes Americans’ traditional freedoms are under threat. He calls Washington “in some ways the most fundamentally dishonest town in our nation.”

He favors a balanced-budget amendment, a 25 percent top marginal income-tax rate, and a dramatically reduced federal budget.

Stimulus spending, bailouts for Wall Street, local education, Amtrak, farm subsidies, medical research, alternative-energy development, transportation programs … the list of federal spending programs that can be cut goes on and on.

pilgrim
I am retired after 36 years of being a state of Indiana employee. I enjoy writing and reading conservative blogs.

5 COMMENTS

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I agree Pilgrim. No matter how good your argument, you just can’t change a lot of people’s minds. It’s kind of like when your mom said “don’t touch that stove, it’s hot” but you won’t really believe it until you touch it.

    A lot of the Left is going to have a huge wake up call. I and several others were involved on twit today with a liberal, and no matter how many of us tried to convince her politely Obamacare is a disaster she wouldn’t believe it.

    I have to say I saw Romney and his team in action in Ohio. They did the best they could with this state. It sure wasn’t for lack of trying.

    Thanks for lifting our spirits and telling us about all these other great wins.

  2. Absolutely correct that it’s not possible to reach those people, Pilgrim. They have no idea what the talking heads are talking about when they use words like “fiscal cliff”, or “top marginal rate”. They don’t even know what is meant by “the economy”. To them, immigration reform means just making things “fair” and the notion of marriage equality leading to the day when all those deductions for their kids are gone by the wayside goes completely over their heads.

  1. I agree Pilgrim. No matter how good your argument, you just can’t change a lot of people’s minds. It’s kind of like when your mom said “don’t touch that stove, it’s hot” but you won’t really believe it until you touch it.

    A lot of the Left is going to have a huge wake up call. I and several others were involved on twit today with a liberal, and no matter how many of us tried to convince her politely Obamacare is a disaster she wouldn’t believe it.

    I have to say I saw Romney and his team in action in Ohio. They did the best they could with this state. It sure wasn’t for lack of trying.

    Thanks for lifting our spirits and telling us about all these other great wins.

  2. Absolutely correct that it’s not possible to reach those people, Pilgrim. They have no idea what the talking heads are talking about when they use words like “fiscal cliff”, or “top marginal rate”. They don’t even know what is meant by “the economy”. To them, immigration reform means just making things “fair” and the notion of marriage equality leading to the day when all those deductions for their kids are gone by the wayside goes completely over their heads.

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