There's nothing at all ordinary about the gigantic Republican incoming freshman class. But in 2010, coming across as "ordinary" was in.
Among GOP hopefuls, it didn't pay to earn an elite reputation. Just ask "Fair Tax millionaire" Tim Burns (R) in Pennsylvania's 12th District, "credit card executive" David Harmer (R) in California's 11th, "Wall Street investment banker" Matt Doheny (R) in New York's 23rd, "outsourcing pioneer" Randy Altschuler (R) in New York's 1st or "commercial real estate banker" Scott Bruun (R) in Oregon's 5th.
But it did pay to be "average nurse" Renee Ellmers (R) in North Carolina's 2nd, "Navy Reservist running with all due respect" Chip Cravaack (R) in Minnesota's 8th, "farmer and rancher" Andy Vidak (R) in California's 20th, "pizza shop owner" Bobby Schilling (R) in Illinois' 17th and "country doctor" Scott DesJarlais (R) in Tennessee's 4th. Even if these candidates lacked access to money at first, they were eventually able to play the role of sympathetic change agent while the GOP's outside group consortium, with a wink and a nod from the National Republican Congressional Commitee, took on the negative burden.
Texas Republican Rep.-Elect Blake Farenthold, who shocked 28 year Democratic Rep. Solomon Ortiz in a 71 percent Hispanic Corpus Christi district, actually admitted to a local TV station, "Early on in the race, I had a nightmare that I won. And now it's like, 'Now what do I do?'"
Time will tell how well some of these rough-around-the-edges candidates adjust to life in Congress. And it won't be long before Democrats start drawing up blueprints to ensure many of them are "one term wonders." But it's almost impossible to draw up plans to reverse the outcomes of 2010 in districts that won't exist in 2012 thanks to redistricting by state legislators. And Democrats easily made squeamish by looking at last night's returns in the House should avert their eyes from results in state legislative seats, where entire generations of Democratic rural local officeholders are now extinct. It may take years, if not months or weeks, for Democrats to fully comprehend the full devastation inflicted in this one midterm election.
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