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Eight Freshmen to Watch In the 115th Congress

by Countable | 3.20.17

Getting elected to public office isn’t an automatic ticket to celebrity -- unless one wins the presidency, of course, or does a turn on "Dancing with the Stars," a la former Texas Gov., and current secretary of Energy nominee, Rick Perry.

But when the 115th United States Congress is seated on Tuesday, a mix of political royalty and newer notable names will take their places and begin drawing their share of media attention and public scrutiny. Here’s an introduction to a select few:

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY)

After a heated battle for a Senate seat in 2014 ended in failure, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney won the seat her father held for 11 years. She was an early and unwavering supporter of President-elect Donald Trump’s White House run. And with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) the only woman currently holding a leadership position in a Congress light on women, Cheney, 50, may be able to parlay her name recognition and familial connections into a role on a prominent committee.

You can keep track of Rep. Cheney's votes and bills sponsored here.

Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)

Panetta’s path to Washington follows that of his father, Leon, who served two years as President Barack Obama’s Defense Secretary. The elder Panetta won his House seat at age 38; his son, just elected to represent California’s 20th District, is already 47. Still, with a dad who was also the White House Chief of Staff and the CIA Director, Jimmy Panetta possesses the sort of pedigree that quickly landed him appointment as a regional whip.

You can keep track of Rep. Panetta's votes and bills sponsored here.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL)

Mast — who at 36 will be one of the youngest members of the incoming Congress — came to national prominence as President Obama’s guest at the 2011 State of the Union Address. On behalf of the nation, the president thanked the former Army bomb technician, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, and fellow Republicans gave him a standing ovation during a recent caucus meeting.

You can keep track of Rep. Mast's votes and bills sponsored here.

Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN)

This former radio talk-show honed a reputation as "the Donald Trump of Minnesota" largely by denigrating Latinos and same-sex marriage and claiming that whites are committing “cultural suicide by failing to reproduce at the same rate as Hispanics.” Democrats were sure that such controversial comments would torpedo his chances with voters, but just as Trump was propelled to the presidency despite his blunt comments and stinging tweets, Lewis traded in his statewide celebrity for a ticket to the nation’s capital, where he now has to rush to get up to speed on what it actually takes to govern.

You can keep track of Rep. Lewis's votes and bills sponsored here.

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL)

After forgoing re-election as Florida governor in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate, only to be edged out of the Republican bid by Marco Rubio, Crist ran as an Independent and lost. So he jumped to the Democratic Party and in 2014 re-sought the governorship, this time losing to Republican Rick Scott. Not one to give up easily, Crist ignited his latest political comeback by defeating incumbent David Jolly and now, at 60, finds himself in an unusual position, that of a freshman D.C. lawmaker with a nonetheless well-known name.

You can keep track of Rep. Crist's votes and bills sponsored here.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)

Her six years as California’s attorney general made Harris the top prosecutor in one of the nation’s most populous and diverse states. Now she steps into the leadership vacancy left by the retiring Barbara Boxer, and she does so as only the second black woman -- and the first person of East Indian descent – ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Back home, she successfully sued the for-profit Corinthian Colleges for $1.1 billion, whittled down the state’s backlog of untested rape kits and negotiated a mortgage-relief settlement on behalf of California homeowners, all while expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. At 52, Harris is firmly planted atop many a political watch list as a potential candidate to be the first woman elected to presidency.

You can keep track of Sen. Harris's votes and bills sponsored here.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)

The retirement of longtime Sen. Harry Reid had Republicans hoping to snatch a seat in a key swing state and ensure their Senate majority for at least the next two years. Reid, however, was certain that another Democrat would succeed him. He was right. Cortez Masto, 52, narrowly beat Republican challenger Joe Heck to become Nevada’s first female and first Latina senator. Descended from Mexican and Italian immigrants, she has been a vocal opponent of President-elect Trump’s stated plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and has already been named to six committees with "direct interest to Las Vegas and state issues."

You can keep track of Sen. Cortez Masto's votes and bills sponsored here.

Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC)

Political experts suggest that Trump’s election reflects the voting public’s dissatisfaction with the status quo. If true, then the election of Ted Budd, 44, of Rural Hall, N.C. (population 2,937 as of 2010), echoes that lesson on a smaller scale. Not only is Budd a political neophyte; he’s also the first gun-shop owner elected to Congress in modern times. He attracted the attention – and dollars – of Club for Growth Action, a super-PAC whose stated mission is "defeating big-government politicians and replacing them with pro-growth, limited-government conservatives." Armed with half-a-million dollars from the group, Budd matched Trump by defeating 16 primary rivals. There’s a chance that few of his better-connected colleagues knew his name before the Nov. 8 election, but odds are good that will change in the 115th Congress.

You can keep track of Rep. Budd's votes and bills sponsored here.

— Erin Wright

(Photo Credit: Flickr user RJ Schmidt)

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(20)
  • Blake
    01/04/2017
    ···

    As a Californian, I am extremely proud to be represented by Harris. Such a strong and progressive woman, looking forward to progress with her.

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  • Ryan
    01/05/2017
    ···

    I believe in Free market capitalism, but the health of HUMAN BEINGS is not a good to be purchased or used as a bargaining chip. The ACA needs restructuring and improvement, but it should not be repealed. Do what is right for the American people, show us that you actually represent us and our well being. And spare us the rhetoric about big government. The free market had more than a century to evolve into something that would make the health and wellness of America a priority, and it failed miserably at every turn.

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  • Onewhoknows
    01/04/2017
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    As a Minnesotan, I am embarrassed Jason Lewis was voted in. I will work hard to see him as a one term rep.

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  • Stef
    01/05/2017
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    Please protect my right to reproductive healthcare and national healthcare. I'm extremely concerned about this congress after their attempt to gut the Ethics Office. How much more obvious of a move towards corruption could a congress make? This move was done behind closed doors and was the first major move of the 115 United States Congress. I find this incredibly disconcerting and untrustworthy.

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  • Dwin
    01/04/2017
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    Attempting to reduce oversight when it was believed the public wasn't paying attention is shameful. I'm sure changes need to be made on a procedural level, but eliminating or weakening the group shouldn't even be an option. As far as I'm concerned, our lawmakers need greater oversight and should provide even more transparency. Anything deviating from these goals will get a strong rebuke from me, and I can't imagine constituents of any community supporting a measure such as this. Claims that the media manipulated the message might have some validity if the public trusted our lawmakers, but trust must be earned and underhanded, back-room agreements such as these only deepen the well of mistrust.

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  • Carson
    01/04/2017
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    Progressive=Communism

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  • Tessa
    01/04/2017
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    I'm so proud Kampala Harris is my rep!

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  • Robert
    01/04/2017
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    Contrary to Carson progressive does NOT equal communism - he must live in a cave

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  • William
    01/04/2017
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    Keep an eye on my new Member of the House, Tom Suozzi (D-NY). Smart and determined to make a difference.

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  • Kevin
    01/04/2017
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    Wow. Hadn't even heard of Jason Lewis. What an ass.

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  • Benny
    02/07/2017
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    Let's hope the new GOP elected have a heart but reading about them proves it will not change the direction we are heading.Vote Nov 2018 to kick them and as many useless heartless GOP we can out of office and impeach the Orange turd staining the Oval Office.

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  • Eric
    01/04/2017
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    Kamala Harris is an ultra liberal loon! Watch out America! Another gift from us here in California!

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  • Gregory
    01/04/2017
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    It's important to be fair to all the newly elected politicians. After we have had a chance to see what they do as opposed to what certain biographers may choose to write. I will have to assume that Jason Lewis is a much better man than his bio would have us believe. Let's not forget that although Al Franken was an extremely incentive and thoughtless writer for SNL, he seems to have taken his Senate seat seriously. Cheers to those who are willing to go to work for us in Washington.

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  • Sean
    01/13/2017
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    Rick Perry's ranch is named Niggerhead. It's name should tell you all you need to know about his suitability for any office anywhere!

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  • Bill
    01/07/2017
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    I don't know about the rest of the voting public but I have had enough of this "pass the baton" between members of family. It is a scam that politicians play on the public. Dad gets elected and spends much time and effort to see that one of his family "replaces" him. The Bushes are a prime example, even trying to continue with baby Jeb. Enough already.

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  • Matthew
    01/06/2017
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    and these are the best they can come up with .screw them all .how about putting common people in those seat that are truly in touch with our citizens needs like getting all the illegals out and there familys people born illegal are illegal no madder what this fake birther rights says ..the wonder the new numbers say there are over 30 million illegals in this country and the kicker is.. the gov and states the mayors and all of the people under the mayor.. now lets not forget about social security the welfare system the housing authority and the people that hire them that i feel the people who hire them should be fined 30.000 dollars for each illegal they are busted with .that would solve the issue with hiring them .well back to all these people and places heres a news flash YOU ALL BRAKEN OUR LAWS ON ILLEGALS all that money being waisted on them .when every dime can help our citizens ,our vets our disabled our elderly and our homeless problem that the citys favor illegals more then helping our homeless getting back on there feet .they are all a disgrace to our nation and the people who walk by them and not stopping to talk with them ,help them if you can and most of all be the voice to your governor for them .your all snubs and again a disgrace .your care more about your phone then a human life .wtf is wrong with america these days .think about all that money spent on illegals cash medical food stamp and housing ,again all illegal .se they say i impsable to get them all out well UNDER MY PLAN THAT IS VERY SIMPLT THE GOV WANTS YOU TO BELIEVE IT CANT BE DONE BUT IN FACT FOLLOW MY SIMPLE PLAN AND 95% OF 30 PLUS MILLIONS WILL BE GONE WITH IN 8 MONTHS OR QUICKER AND PLUS IT WILL HELP THOSE FOOLS THAT TRY TO COME IN FROM STOPPING BECAUSE THERE BE NOTHING HERE FOR THEM ..MY PLAN IS TO CUT OFF ALL RESOURCES AND AID TO ILLEGALS .SIMPLE AS BAKING A PIE .30 MILLION PLUS DOLLARS GOING TO OUR CITIZENS OF AMERICA .IF THIS IS DONE THE BIG ISSUE WILL BE FROM STOPPING WASHINGTON FROM DIGGING THERE FILTHY HANDS INTO THAT MONEY .THAT MONEY IS FOR OUR CITIZENS ONLY ..YOU PEOPLE ARE THE VOICE. YELL SCREAM .AND IF NECESSARY CAUSE ATTENTION TO THE ISSUE .REMEMBER ITS WE THE PEOPLE NOT WE THE GOV THAT PRETECT ILLEGALS BEFORE THERE OWN CITIZENS .SO I WAS READING ABOUT THESE FOOLS AND THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT SITTING IN THOSE CHAIRS .I NO I DONT WE NEED OUR PEOPLE THAT COMES FROM THE STREETS TO HAVE A SAY INSTEAD OF THESE RICH FOOLS WHO IS THERE BECAUSE THEY NO SOMEONE ALL READY SITTING IN THOSE SEATS ..IM ON TO THEM ALL .I HOPE OTHERS ARE .CLOSING STATEMENT ARE BRING OUR TROOPS HOME AND TAKE CARE OF THEM THERE JUST ANIMALS THERE ,THERES NO MORE WAR ITS A GAME FOR THESE GENERALS .WHOS MAIN CONCERNS IS SELLING WEAPON ,OIL AND PRIDE .PRETTY SICK RIGHT , I HATE THEM ALL .THEY TURNED OUR GREAT COUNTRY INTO A WEAK PLACE THAT IS RUNNING JUST LIKE A DICTATORSHIP ..well good by ,be safe .remember its we the people not we the gov .O BTW ANY MISSPELLS ITS TO BAD .IF IT BOTHERS YOU THAT MUCH SEEK MEDICAL HELP

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  • Allen
    01/09/2017
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    Looking forward to checking the side of progressives to socialism and moral decline.

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  • Pancake
    01/04/2017
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    [Enter comment here] I commented on an article do I get followers now? Just in case you didn't notice it was a joke

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  • Jeannette
    01/05/2017
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    I counted 3 plus,1 uncertain,4 minus. Harris had me until I read supporter solidarity with BLM some fine wording separate, apart, or one, solo with. Just love code talk. I'll simply write BLM is a terrorist organization set out to divide and instill hate, encourage murdering of police offices. Shame on California,Nevada and Wyoming.

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  • Susan
    01/08/2017
    ···

    Aggressively and firmly Reject these ineligible choices. They are are either wholly in-adept, have ties to personal interests, and / or have not provided necessary background info. Do not allow this precedence to take place! Otherwise this is proof rules simply don't apply to them. Our government has no place for Affluenza!!!

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