Today, the new class of senators and congressman were sworn in. Hence, the Harry Reid is no longer Senate Majority Leader – and that is a great thing for this nation. Reid’s tenure was marked by hyper partisanship and ineptitude. Mitch McConnell did contribute to that atmosphere to a certain extent, but Reid’s role was the decisive one. There are a lot of new faces in the senate, and we can expect to here more from a number of new senators.
Colorado voters sent congressman Cory Gardner to the Senate, replacing Mark Udall. Gardner had initially opted against a run for senate, but he jumped in late, swapping places with Ken Buck, a former senate nominee who is considerably to the right of Gardner politically, who ran for Gardner’s old congressional seat. Gardner has proved to have fresh ideas, supporting widespread energy development including wind and solar, as well as supporting making birth control available over the counter. He remains solidly conservative, and shows signs of a superstar in the making. He may make an appearance at CPAC in the not-too-distant future and it would not take much imagination to see him giving a rousing speech in Cleveland in 2016. Gardner will be a strong, principled voice in the US Senate, and Colorado is fortunate to have someone of his ability serving them.
With all the chaos going on in the Middle East, it would be helpful to have some Iraq war veterans in the senate. We now have three. Joni Ernst, an army veteran who was stationed in Kuwait in 2003-2004, rose from political obscurity to replace Tom Harkin as Iowa’s senator. She ran a campaign emphasizing her roots on Iowa’s farmland, famously using her experiencing castrating pigs as a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for cutting pork. She seems poised to establish herself as one of the senate’s conservative firebrands.
Shortly after graduating from Harvard University, Tom Cotton (of Yell County, Arkansas) opted against finding a high paying job, instead enlisting as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. After serving in Iraq, he returned to Arkansas, a state which he now represents in the US Senate. Aside from having first hand experience with the Middle East, Cotton has distinguished himself as a rising Republican star. You can expect to hear more from him in the future. He defeated Mark Pryor, who had the backing of Arkansas favorite son Bill Clinton, by a much greater margin than expected, and could join the likes of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul as a young Republican superstar.
The senate gained a knowledgeable foreign policy expert in Dan Sullivan, the new senator from Alaska. His impressive résumé includes a stint in the Marines and several years in the Condoleezza Rice state department. After leaving Washington to return to Alaska, Sullivan became the state’s attorney general and ran the Natural Resources Commission (a significant and powerful position in Alaska). Sullivan is articulate, well informed, experienced, and will make an excellent Senator.
The new Republican majority has within its ranks the talent to avoid the malaise of gridlock that plagued the previous session of the senate. With new members Gardner, Sullivan, Cotton, Ernst, and others joining its ranks, there is hope for a more productive and innovative senate.