The Watercooler ~ Eleven Tea Party Backed New Members in Congress

If you are like me, the stunning wins for the Republican Party on Tuesday are taking time to absorb. There were so many wins across the nation that it will be a while before we understand fully what took place on the ground — up close and personal.

For this morning, I want to draw from the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal article regarding the eleven tea party backed conservatives that won election on Tuesday. It is important for us to remember that while conservatives have not won every battle, we are still making inroads and greatly influencing the push against moderates in the party. I’ve heard many pundits disparage tea party conservatives for various shortcomings and, in my opinion, exaggerate the defeat that has been inflicted on conservatives by the establishment. But it cannot be denied that the establishment has been forced to move further right at least partly as a result of the tea party’s refusal to back down when they are dismissed and reviled by those whose boats are being rocked, as well as the tea party continuing to hold politicians’ feet to the fire after elected.

The following is a list of the new conservatives — two in the Senate and nine in the House, respectively, — who will be going to Washington for the next Congress.

Ben Sasse, Nebraska

Sasse, 42, currently serves as president of Midland University in Fremont, Neb. Sasse and his wife, Melissa, have been married for 19 years and homeschool their three daughters, Elizabeth, Alexandra and Breck. He is a native of Plainview, Neb.

Sasse has spoken out extensively about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, which his daughters say he “despises.” During his Senate campaign, he championed limited government and said he would push for entitlement reform. A favored reform: tying the retirement age to life expectancy. He also supports school choice for parents and their children.

[mc_name name=’Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001095′ ], Arkansas

Cotton, 37, served one term representing the southwestern part of Arkansas in the House before making his successful bid for Senate against incumbent Democrat [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000590′ ] on themes of restoring the principles of limited government and ending corporate cronyism.

Cotton was born in Dardanelle, Ark., and previously worked as a consultant for McKinsey and Co. As an Army captain, he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Cotton married girlfriend Anna Peckham in March, and the two announced in October that they’re expecting a baby boy.

Cotton advocates a robust national defense, called the Iraq War “just and noble” and criticized President Obama for drawing a red line in Syria over chemical weapons. Cotton voted against the Farm Bill because of the inclusion of the ever-growing food stamp program. He is a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act, hitting Pryor on Obamacare throughout the campaign. On immigration reform, Cotton calls for enforcing laws currently on the books and strengthening border security.

Barry Loudermilk, Georgia

Loudermilk, 50, is an Air Force veteran, small business owner and conservative pioneer in Georgia’s 11 Congressional District, which is northern Atlanta.

He met his wife, Desiree, 30 years ago when they both served in a church bus ministry in Anchorage, Alaska. They now have three grown children and one daughter-in-law.

The Loudermilk family is active in the Civil Air Patrol, providing search-and-rescue, disaster relief and other emergency services throughout Georgia.

As a conservative leader in the Georgia House and State Senate, Loudermilk worked to improve government transparency and reduce the size of government.

He emphasizes personal privacy, limited government and lower taxes.

His top campaign issues included defunding and fully repealing Obamacare, implementing a fair or flat tax, and advocating traditional family values. He spoke out against President Obama’s plan to use executive power to unilaterally allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. and move toward citizenship.

John Ratcliff, Texas

Ratcliffe, 49, who served eight years as mayor of Heath, Texas, will become the congressman from the 4th District in the northeastern part of the state. He regards one of his biggest accomplishments to be balancing Heath’s budget without raising taxes during the recession.

Ratcliffe was a U.S. attorney and chief of anti-terrorism and national security for the Eastern District of Texas under President George W. Bush.

He is the youngest of six children born to two schoolteachers. Ratcliffe has been married to wife Michele for 23 years. They have two daughters.

Billed as a reform-minded leader, Ratcliffe also gets credit for old-fashioned understanding of the importance of balancing a budget. During the campaign, he promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, secure U.S. borders, and oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Dave Brat, Virginia

Brat, 49, became famous overnight for toppling House Majority Leader [mc_name name=’Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001046′ ] in District 7’s primary election June 11. An economics professor at Randolph–Macon College, he is a Catholic. Over the years, he served Virginia in various capacities as an economic adviser.

Brat touts his upbringing in the rural Midwest as the basis for his conservative values. He and his wife, Laura, have two children — Jonathan, 15, and Sophia, 11.

Voters in central Virginia rallied around Brat’s clear message: “Let’s get our economy back on track, end the reckless spending, secure the border and repeal Obamacare.”

Alex Mooney, West Virginia

Mooney, 43, is the son of a Cuban refugee and a Vietnam veteran. His election in the 2nd District gave the GOP all three of West Virginia’s House seats. Mooney served in the Maryland State Senate from 1999 to 2011, representing Frederick and Washington counties. He also is a former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.

Mooney and his wife, Grace, decided to leave heavily Democratic Maryland and move across the Potomac River to raise their family in West Virginia. They homeschool their two children in Charles Town and welcomed their third child in October.

Although Mooney was criticized for being a Maryland transplant, he made inroads with voters in West Virginia’s capital city of Charleston by emphasizing the need to cut government spending and reduce taxes and advocating Second Amendment rights and pro-life family values.

Gary Palmer, Alabama

Palmer, 60, won central Alabama’s 6th District with 66 percent of the vote, easily defeating Democrat opponent Mark Lester. Palmer previously served as head of the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank in the southern part of the state.

Palmer is a graduate of the University of Alabama and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Mobile. He and his wife, Ann, are Presbyterians and have three children.

Given his background as president and CEO of the Alabama Policy Institute, most voters knew what they would get by electing Palmer. He campaigned on “sound public policies that emphasize a limited government, free markets, the rule of law and strong families.” He wasn’t shy in saying he is for “repealing and replacing” the Affordable Care Act with a national health care policy that allows Americans to buy the health insurance of their choice.

Jody Hice, Georgia

A radio show host turned politician, Jody Hice, 54, captured the attention of eastern Georgia’s 10th Congressional District this year with a call to “renew America.” A Southern Baptist pastor, he got his undergraduate degree from Asbury College and received his doctorate from Luther Rice.

A Georgia native, Hice has served churches in Barrow, Gwinnett and Walton counties for nearly 25 years. He and Dee Dee, his wife of nearly 30 years, live in Walton County. They have two adult daughters and three grandchildren.

Hice advocates religious freedom and conservative social principles. He campaigned on energy independence, reining in government spending, improving the the economy and the job picture, and maintaining a strong national defense. He also wants to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin

Grothman, 59, is a lawyer born and raised in the Badger State. He defeated Democratic opponent Mark Harris to take the 6th District seat.

Grothman is assistant majority leader of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 20th District since 2004. Before that, he represented the West Bend area in the state Assembly.

He got his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. He never has married and has no children.

Grothman focused his campaign on budget and tax reform, education and traditional values.

Ken Buck, Colorado

Buck, 55, elected to represent the 11th District, isn’t known for shying away from hard work and conservative principles. He worked his way through high school, college and law school in a variety of jobs. He spent the past 10 years serving as district attorney of Weld County, Colo., assembling what he considers a strong record of criminal prosecution and crime prevention.

For Buck, conservative politics is a family affair. His wife, Perry, is vice chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and is a representative in the Colorado House. They have two children, Cody and Kaitlin.

During his campaign, Buck advocated a balanced budget amendment, limited government and reduced federal spending.

Tom Emmer, Minnesota

From Edina, Minn., Emmer, 53, has a resume that includes founding his own law firm and serving six years in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He made a bid for the governorship in 2010, but ultimately fell one-half of 1 percent short of the win.

After his race for governor, Emmer began hosting a conservative talk radio show in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. He says he first entered politics because of family. He and his wife, Jacquie, have seven children: six boys and a girl.

Emmer won the 6th District seat vacated by [mc_name name=’Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001256′ ], leader of the House’s tea party leader caucus. He pledged to bring home federal dollars to fix his district’s roads.

In the state legislature, Emmer sponsored an amendment to nullify state laws and supported a change to the Minnesota state constitution to confirm that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. He advocated for a balanced budget during his campaigns for the governorship and House, and questioned lawmakers’ willingness to vote for bills they haven’t read.


There is one more name that I would add to this list (not sure how she was missed):

Mia Love, Utah (From Mia’s website)

Mia graduated from the University of Hartford with a degree in fine arts. She found faith. Then she found Jason. And then she found herself in Utah ready to give back. Mia served two terms on the city council of Saratoga Springs, one of Utah’s fastest growing cities. As City Councilwoman and eventually Mayor, Mia led the city through a period of 1700% population growth in a decade. Under her leadership, the city was able to successfully navigate the drastic transition from agricultural fields to a booming residential community. When the citizen growth necessitated fire and police services, Mia fought to make sure the city’s first ever residential tax implementation would only pay for those essential services, and she structured it in such a way that the tax decreased as a percentage of property value.

Mayor Love is best known for her conservative positions on limited government, increased citizen liberties and limited restraints on business. She believes the best thing she can do as mayor is stay out of the way of business and out of the lives of citizens. She advocates a return to the personal responsibility and reduced government dependency engendered by her father.


Feel free to let us know if you have insight into their elections that will keep us better informed going forward, or if there are others you think should be mentioned that are not on the list.

The Watercooler is always an open thread.