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Climbing the hill

"Climbing the hill" Continued...

Republican Pat Toomey offered this summary of his free­market, small­government views while running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania: "France might be a nice place to visit, but I don't want to be France." The message resonated with Pennsylvanians: Toomey won the seat that Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter vacates in January. (Specter-a Republican until last year-lost his primary battle to Rep. Joe Sestak.) Few doubt that Toomey will drive a hard line on fiscal conservatism. The former president of the limited-government group Club for Growth vigorously supports cutting taxes and federal regulations. On social issues, the National Right to Life Committee endorsed Toomey's run, noting the former congressman's pro-life voting record. But pro-life advocates will watch Toomey's votes on any future Supreme Court justices. The senator-elect said last year that he would have voted for confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, saying that "objective qualifications should matter more than ideology in the judicial confirmation process." Sotomayor testified during her confirmation hearings that Roe v. Wade is settled precedent.
Mike Lee | Utah

The Republican Party establishment did not start taking the Tea Party seriously until it took out one of their own: Bob Bennett, Utah's three-term senator, finished third last May in his state's GOP convention. Now attorney Mike Lee, just 39, heads to Washington in his place. Lee promises to take Tea Party priorities straight to the Senate chamber. His goals for his first two years include passing a balanced budget and a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget every year. He also pledges to first defund, then repeal Obamacare. While Bennett brought home the federal bacon, Lee opposes earmarks, describing them as the "holy sacrament of big government." Saying it shouldn't be considered outlandish to want to get the nation's fiscal house in order, Lee has suggested an immediate 40 percent cut in federal spending and has argued that a government shutdown may be "absolutely necessary." Despite being a Tea Party star, Lee is not really new to Washington: His father served as solicitor general under President Reagan, and Lee himself worked for a D.C.-based law firm and once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.


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Steve Southerland | Florida-02

Steve Southerland is making the unusual jump from funeral director to congressman, representing Florida's 2nd District. Southerland retired seven-term Blue Dog Democrat Allen Boyd, even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district. The National Rifle Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed the incumbent Boyd, but his votes for the stimulus and the final healthcare reform bill riled voters. Southerland, whose family is also involved in local timber and stone industries, campaigned on fiscal restraint based on his experience as a businessman. He will be leaving the Panama City funeral home his grandfather started in 1955. He and his wife Susan have four daughters and attend a Southern Baptist church in Panama City.
Stephen Fincher | Tennessee-08

When Tennessee's John Tanner, one of Congress' original Blue Dog conservative Democrats, announced last December that he would retire after 11 terms in the House, few thought his seat would change parties. After all, Republicans have held what is now called the state's 8th Congressional District for a total of just six years since 1875. But enter a farmer and gospel singer named Stephen Fincher from Frog Jump, Tenn. A political novice, Fincher, 37, rode an "it's time to plough Congress" campaign slogan to victory in this northwest Tennessee district. "My roots run deep in Tennessee, not politics," says Fincher, who plays bass guitar and sings with family members in a band that has performed in more than 500 churches over the last decade. He even admitted during the campaign to a gathering at a local community college that he'd never been to Washington until December, when he spoke to about 100 Republican congressmen. "I stood and I said, 'Can I be honest?' and they said, 'Yes, sir,' and I said, 'I don't like it up here,' and they said, 'If you keep it that way, you'll be the best congressman we've ever had.'" Fincher could also be a sign that Southern white Democrats like Tanner may be an endangered political species.
Cedric Richmond | Louisiana-02

One of the few Democrats to wrest a seat from a sitting Republican, Cedric Richmond beat out Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao in Louisiana's heavily Democratic 2nd District, which encompasses New Orleans and some of its suburbs. In 2008 Cao was the first Republican to win that seat in over a century, so Democrats felt certain they could win it back. Richmond, 37, who became the youngest state representative when he was elected 10 years ago, had tied Cao to Republicans, highlighting Cao's votes against the stimulus and the healthcare overhaul. Cao voted with Democrats more than any other House Republican, but Richmond is likely to be a reliable party-line vote. He had issues in his own background, including an arrest in a bar fight, two ethics violations, and a temporary suspension of his law license-but in 2008 he ran in the primary against then-Rep. William Jefferson, the Democrat who was found guilty of corruption, and that boosted his credibility as someone concerned with integrity in politics. Richmond is not married.
Mike Pompeo | Kansas-04

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