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(WASHINGTON) — There are a lot of new Republicans headed to Congress next year, but some members of the largest GOP wave since the Hoover administration stick out more than others.
Here are some of the newly minted senators and members of Congress likely to shake things up at the Capitol:
ELISE STEFANIK, Member-Elect, New York
Elise Stefanik, 30, is the youngest women to be elected to Congress in history, and the first Republican to win her upstate New York district.
She’s a familiar figure in Washington GOP circles: Stefanik served on President George W. Bush’s Domestic Policy Council and worked in the office of chief of staff Josh Bolten. In 2012, she helped craft the party’s platform and prepare Rep. Paul Ryan prepare for his vice presidential debates.
LEE ZELDIN, Member-Elect, New York
Of all the competitive House races on Election Day, Lee Zeldin’s victory in New York’s 1st congressional district on Long Island stands out above the rest.
“Victory is sweet,” Zeldin, 34, proclaimed during his victory speech Tuesday night, six years after he was handily defeated in his first bid for the House of Representatives.
Today, Zeldin is a 10-point winner, holding his opponent to just 45 percent of the vote while carrying 55 percent of the tally himself.
“We can’t change Washington unless we change who we send there to represent us,” Zeldin, who will become the only Jewish House Republican in the 114th Congress, told his supporters. “That’s what you did tonight.”
JONI ERNST, Senator-Elect, Iowa
Joni Ernst is a hog-castrating, Harley-riding Sunday school teacher, and her next stop is the U.S. Senate. Ernst, 44, catapulted to national stardom when she released an ad titled “Squeal,” in which she described castrating hogs. It was a theme she carried throughout the campaign, all the way to election night.
“We did it, from the biscuit line at Hardee’s to the United States Senate,” Ernst, an Iowa state senator, said as she declared victory Tuesday evening. “We are going to make them squeal.”
Ernst will be the first female ever to represent Iowa in the Senate and will add to the post-9/11 generation of veterans serving in the Senate. She will likely play an influential role in the 2016 presidential race, as would-be candidates try to court her before the first-in-the-nation caucuses.
TOM COTTON, Senator-Elect, Arkansas
Tom Cotton has experienced a meteoric rise in the Republican Party, serving just one term in the House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate.
At the age of 37, Cotton, who holds two Harvard degrees, will be the youngest lawmaker to serve in the next U.S. Senate come January. Throughout his campaign, Cotton touted his experience in Iraq and Afghanistan as preparing him to deal with national security issues, like the threats posed by ISIS.
CORY GARDNER, Senator-Elect, Colorado
Cory Gardner, a 40-year-old congressman, defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall Tuesday partly by billing himself as a new generation of Republican lawmaker.
He supports alternative energy along with over-the-counter birth control, which helped him fend of Democrats’ attacks against his record on women’s health, and is seen as one of his party’s rising stars.
BEN SASSE, Senator-Elect, Nebraska
While Nebraska’s newest Republican senator has never held elected office, Ben Sasse, 43, is no political rookie.
Sasse most recently served as president of Midland University, a small Lutheran college near Omaha, but has also worked in Congress and served in the second Bush administration. Outside the political ring, he wrestled in college at Harvard University and played (American) football at Oxford University, where he did graduate work.
MIA LOVE, Member-Elect, Utah
Mia Love, 38, became the first female African-American Republican in Congress Tuesday. The former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, unsuccessfully ran for Utah’s Fourth Congressional District in 2012, but will now represent the district, and a new generation of Republican lawmakers, in Washington.
THOM TILLIS, Senator-Elect, North Carolina
Thom Tillis, 54, was one of the Republican Party’s prized recruits, and delivered for the GOP by flipping the sixth Democratic seat to give Republicans control of the Senate.
In just eight years, he has gone from city councilor in suburban Charlotte to U.S. senator, making waves in Raleigh along the way for leading a conservative shift in North Carolina’s historically moderate state politics
DAVID PERDUE, Senator-Elect, Georgia
As a white, Southern, male businessman, Perdue may look like a cookie-cutter Republican senator, but he’ll likely stand out from the crowd. A businessman with experience in overseas manufacturing, Perdue won an intensely negative race in which his Democratic opponent, Michelle Nunn, ran the Obama-vs.-Romney playbook and hammered him for “outsourcing.”
Perdue’s role in the Senate will get most interesting when it comes to immigration. Perdue fought viciously with fellow Republicans in a primary and a runoff over who really supports “amnesty,” but while Perdue plainly says he’s opposed, he’s also signaled a willingness to at least talk about comprehensive reform after border-security measures are passed.
Unlike some of his Republican Senate brethren, Perdue won’t be beholden to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the most powerful business lobbying group in the country — because they made enemies of each other during a bad meeting early on in the campaign, and the Chamber backed one of his primary opponents. Somewhat ironic for the Senate’s newest businessman.
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