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Climbing the hill

Campaign 2010 | As a large freshman class arrives in Washington promising change, these are some of the new faces to watch in Congress

As Democrats limped away from a defeat in bruising mid-term elections, Republican Marco Rubio warned jubilant Republicans against strutting. "We make a grave mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party," Rubio said after winning his Senate race in Florida. "What they are is a second chance-a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not long ago." Republicans longing for a second chance weren't disappointed: The GOP reclaimed a majority in the House of Representatives by winning more than 60 seats held by Democrats, the party's largest sweep of House races since 1938. Democrats retained control of the Senate, but their majority narrowed: Republicans gained at least six seats, including the spots of liberal mainstays like Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.

GOP wins stretched across every region of the country, reflecting widespread voter angst against Democrats. But winning isn't everything: Now Republicans have to deliver-a formidable task for Republican senators still in the minority, and for presumed Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his crop of political newcomers.

Who are these new faces? What will drive them in Congress? Here's a look at some of the future legislators set to arrive on Capitol Hill next month.


U.S. SENATE

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Ron Johnson | Wisconsin

Last spring, Ron Johnson was a 55-year-old president of a plastics company in Oshkosh, Wis. Then the healthcare overhaul passed. So, on May 17, Johnson found himself announcing that he was taking on three-term Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold. "The passage of Obamacare, that was just kind of the straw that broke the camel's back from my standpoint," Johnson said, "and I thought I just couldn't sit on the sidelines any longer." Few gave Johnson much of a chance. After all, Wisconsin hasn't had a Republican senator since 1992 and Johnson had never run for public office. But Johnson spent more than $8 million of his own money in the race, and it will be the once virtually unknown Johnson, not Feingold, who goes to Congress in January. Johnson will bring with him to Washington 31 years of accounting and manufacturing experience. He says a top goal is to cap federal spending and to stop the remaining $165 billion in stimulus funds from being spent. But his ultimate goal is what started him on this road less than six months ago: repealing Obamacare.
Kelly Ayotte | New Hampshire

With her victory in New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte proved that a young conservative female could indeed win a statewide election in a moderate state. Ayotte, 42, quietly maintained a steady lead in a New England state despite her support of the sanctity of marriage and her persistent criticisms of the new healthcare law. A former New Hampshire attorney general, Ayotte replaces the retiring Sen. Judd Gregg. As a senator, she is expected to be a fighter for pro-life issues. While attorney general, Ayotte appealed a lower court ruling that overturned a New Hampshire law requiring parental notification of a minor's abortion. She personally argued the case before the Supreme Court over the objections of the state's incoming Democratic governor. Ayotte, the wife of an Iraq War veteran and mother of two, favors term limits and vows to serve no more than two terms in office. A national Republican Party looking to broaden its appeal among women and independent voters will likely embrace her.
John Boozman | Arkansas

When Rep. John Boozman, R-Ark., transfers to the U.S. Senate in January, he'll bear a notable distinction: Boozman is set to become only the second Republican senator from Arkansas since the 1870s. The congressman unseated Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln, whose support for Obama's healthcare legislation proved toxic. Boozman-a House member since 2001-voted against the healthcare overhaul. The optometrist who owns his own business said that combination helped drive his votes against costly legislation that weakens healthcare and burdens small business owners. Most expect Boozman to promote fiscal conservatism in the Senate, but they'll also watch his promises: Boozman-who sponsored $30 million worth of earmarks last year-says he'll join a GOP moratorium on pork-barrel spending. Though Boozman emphasized fiscal discipline in his Senate campaign, his House voting record also reveals a conservative stance on social issues. The congressman supported the partial-birth-abortion ban and opposed federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. He also opposes same-sex marriage and recently voted against a veterans' bill because it included a repeal of the military's ban on openly gay troops.
Pat Toomey | Pennsylvania

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