Move Over, Ron Paul
Justin Amash, the Republican newcomer from Michigan’s Grand Rapids-based 3rd District, was born in 1980, and may become the youngest new member of Congress once ballots are counted in every state. Amash, who already has two years in the state legislature under his belt, doesn’t think government has much of a role anywhere, and he was known locally for voting “no” on 59 bills in his first term, including legislation to toughen penalties for human trafficking and to allow soldiers to get out of their cell phone contracts when they are deployed overseas. Incidentally, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has a similar voting record and is known in the House as “Dr. No.” … Rep.-elect Jaime Herrera of Washington state, at 32 years old, will also be among the youngest members of Congress, and she has the added distinction of being a Latina Republican.
The Pay Is Not as Good, But You Get to Vote
Jon Runyan is the Republican who sacked freshman Democratic Rep. John Adler in New Jersey’s 3rd District. Runyan is better known as an offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles, a job he gave up after being sidelined by a knee injury. He was one of the most highly compensated players of his time and got to play in two Super Bowls before retiring and going into politics.
He Won’t Be Getting Any Meetings Over at State
As a young lawyer, Robert Dold, a GOP freshman from suburban Chicago, was on the investigative team that looked into fundraising irregularities in President Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign. At the time, Dold was on staff of the House Oversight Government Reform Committee, which conducted the probe under then-Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind. Dold is now president of Rose Pest Solutions, which could put him on a leadership track. In 2003, House Republicans chose Tom DeLay of Texas, a former pest exterminator, as their majority leader.
He Has the Vision Thing
Mississippi Republican Alan Nunnelee, who laid to rest Democratic Rep. Travis Childers’s House career on Tuesday, runs a business that insures funeral homes. In college, Nunnelee lost his eyesight to a congenital disease. He finished school by buying his textbooks on tape. Later, he had cornea transplants on both eyes that restored his vision, a medical feat made possible by an organ donor. He says of the donor’s family, “I see today because of their generosity.”
A Dogfight in Minnesota-08
Chip Cravaack provided some of the best Election Night drama when he beat Democrat James Oberstar, a 36-year veteran who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Cravaack is a former Northwest Airlines pilot who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. The decorated former Navy pilot says he ran against Oberstar because he was upset about the Democrats’ health care law. He called up his friend, the mayor of Lindstrom, Minn., and said, “I want to run for Congress. What do I do?”
Join Up, See the World
Rep.-elect Adam Kinzinger of Illinois served in Iraq with the Air Force, returning from his last tour of duty just last year. On a mission near the Mexican border, Kinzinger chased down a man who had slashed a woman with a knife, pinning him down until police arrived. He was awarded the National Guard’s Valley Forge Cross for heroism. “During the whole thing, I thought I was going to die,” he said. … In his 16 years with the Air Force, California Republican Jeff Denham was sent to hot spots all over the world. He served in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War and took part in a peacekeeping mission in Somalia in 1993. After the service, he started his own business, a container supply company called Denham Plastics. He will take the place of retiring GOP Rep. George Radanovich. In the primary, Denham defeated former Rep. Richard Pombo, a onetime committee chairman trying to make a comeback.
The Real World: Congress
After graduating from college, Wisconsin’s Sean Duffy tried out the then-new world of reality TV. Duffy, the GOP winner of retiring Democratic Rep. David Obey’s seat, joined the cast of MTV’s “The Real World: Boston,” where he served as the conservative foil to a liberal cast member. He also met his future wife, who had been cast on a similar show. The couple now has six children under the age of 10, and Rachel Campos-Duffy published a book last year titled, Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood.
Gregg Sangillo writes for The Almanac of American Politics, which contributed to this report.