This year marks the beginning of the 118th Congress, and with it comes an 82-member freshman class: 45 Republicans and 37 Democrats, with 75 in the House and 7 in Senate. It’s not the largest class of Republicans, and it’s not the smallest, but it’s one the youngest and most diverse. It’s an interesting mix of men and women, military veterans and a TV personality, lawyers and former staffers. So who are they and what are they about? Here’s a look at some of the newly elected Republicans in the 118th Congress and what it means for the future of the party.
One of the newest Senators on the Hill also happens to be a familiar face. 40-year old mother-of-two Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL) isn’t just a “momma on a mission”, she’s also the former Chief of Staff to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the longest serving Senator in the states history, whom she succeeded upon his retirement. She’s also the first woman elected to the Senate from that state (Alabama’s previous two female Democratic Senators were both appointed). Sen. Britt is seen as a rising star in the party, so don’t be surprised if you see her in Senate Republican leadership in the near future.
Replacing retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO). He previously served as the state’s 43rd Attorney General, a position he was appointed to by Gov. Mike Parson (R) in November 2018, following then-Attorney General Josh Hawley’s (R) election to the U.S. Senate that year. Prior to that Schmitt served as the Missouri State Treasurer and in the state senate. Throughout his career, Schmitt has been a fearless advocate for low taxes, fighting crime, and is a champion for autism research and children’s healthcare as his young son was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition and is on the autism spectrum.
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) is one of only two Senators in their thirties, making him the second youngest member of the upper chamber. Vance is a political outsider who worked as a venture capitalist and is the famed author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” his memoir about life growing up in Appalachia. Vance fought a tough 3-person primary for the open seat vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and defeated centrist Democrat Tim Ryan despite being outraised and outspent 4:1 on the campaign trail in one of the marquee races of the last cycle.
There are also some familiar faces. Former Reps. Ted Budd (R-NC) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) advanced to the Senate. Mullin is the first Native American to serve in the upper chamber in almost twenty years. Meanwhile, Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), who represented the state in Congress from 2015-17 and served as Interior Secretary under President Trump, has returned to his old seat.
In addition to Zinke, we have a diverse, young, and experienced group of people entering the House.
In one of the most expensive and closely watched primary battles of the 2022 midterm elections, Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-WY) defeated disgruntled former Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) and ultimately prevailed in the safe-red, at-large seat. Hagerman’s decision to primary challenge Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump, quickly garnered national attention and the support of now-Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the wider House Republican conference. Born into a ranching family, Hagerman boasts deep roots to the state as a fourth-generation Wyomingite whose father served in the state legislature for over 20 years. An attorney, Rep. Hagerman brings a strong legal acumen to Team Red having clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and previously serving as a trial attorney.
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) won the open suburban Tampa seat vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) who, by the way, failed miserably in his attempt to stop Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) from re-election. Born to a single mother in one of southern California’s low-income neighborhoods, Luna is the first Mexican-American woman from Florida elected to Congress. She served her country with distinction in the U.S. Air Force, where she met her husband, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient who was injured in combat in Afghanistan. Following his injury, they began working with several veteran-focused, veteran-serving non-profit organizations.
Representing the Kansas City suburbs is former TV anchor turned politician Rep. Mark Alford (R-MO). Alford is a familiar face, just not on Capitol Hill. He stepped down as a newscaster for local WDAF-TV after 23 years to run for Congress last year and won.
There is Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) who will be the first Latino Republican from Arizona in Congress. Ciscomani previously worked as a senior advisor to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R).
Clearly, Republicans have a wide and deep pool of conservative fighters entering the halls of power to represent their constituents and their best interests. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the new, unique and qualified Republicans in Washington. It also illustrates that the Republican Party has a strong bench of candidates across the country from all walks of life who are ready and willing to step up and do the hard work to defend America, promote American innovation and prosperity, and invest in the communities and people that will lead the world for generations to come.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action.