A look at the newest faces in the Senate
Originally published November 2, 2010 at 8:17 p.m., updated November 2, 2010 at 1:38 a.m.
A look at the newest faces in the Senate:
JOHN BOOZMAN, REPUBLICAN
A former offensive tackle for the Arkansas Razorbacks, Boozman is an optometrist in Rogers, Ark., and a former cattle rancher and school board member. His brother, the late Dr. Fay Boozman, ran unsuccessfully against Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 1998.
Boozman was elected to the House in 2001 in a special election to fill seat of Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson, who resigned to become head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He finished Hutchinson’s term representing the northwest Arkansas district and won re-election four times.
He is the only Republican member of Arkansas’ congressional delegation and has been a GOP loyalist. He regularly sided with President George W. Bush’s administration.
Boozman, 59, won the Republican primary in May, defeating seven rivals despite criticism over his vote in favor of the $700 billion bank bailout. He says the relief package was needed to avoid a financial meltdown. He opposed the health care law and vows to try to repeal it.
He and his wife, Cathy, have three daughters.
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, DEMOCRAT
Connecticut’s longtime attorney general is a former state legislator who has brushed aside entreaties to run for governor to hold out for a Senate bid.
His father was a German Jew who escaped Hitler’s Germany in 1935. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Blumenthal earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Yale University. He was a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
In 1969 he served as an aide to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then in the Nixon administration, and in 1974 was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. He was an administrative assistant to Democratic Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, and he also served as the U.S. attorney for Connecticut from 1977 to 1981.
Blumenthal, 64, was first elected attorney general in 1990 and is in his fifth four-year term. He and his wife, Cynthia, have four children.
CHRIS COONS, DEMOCRAT
He has been chief executive of Delaware’s largest county since 2004, having previously served four years as county council president.
Coons was born in Greenwich, Conn., and moved to Delaware as a child. After his parents divorced, his mother married into the family that founded and runs the privately held W.L. Gore & Associates, maker of Gore-Tex fabrics and other products. Before becoming county executive, he was a lawyer for Gore.
He became a Democrat in college following a trip to Africa that caused him to question his Republican beliefs. He wrote of the experience in a college newspaper column, which political opponents seized upon this year because of its title: “Chris Coons: The Making of a Bearded Marxist.”
Coons, 47, is married and has three children. He hold degrees in political science and chemistry from Amherst College and graduate degrees in religion and law from Yale University.
MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN
An attorney, the 39-year-old Miami native served as speaker of the Florida House and became a rising star in the GOP as a fiscal conservative.
Born to Cuban immigrants, Rubio began his career in public service as a city commissioner in West Miami and entered the Florida House at age 29. Within eight years he ascended from a representative seated by special election to majority whip, majority leader and eventually House speaker.
Fiscal conservatism is the cornerstone of Rubio’s philosophy. He says controlling the national debt and paring government entitlement programs are the most important things lawmakers can accomplish. Rubio wants to reinstate tax cuts for the wealthy enacted under President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, slash corporate taxes and eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividend profits. He also supports eliminating the estate tax.
In the Republican primary for the Senate, Rubio initially trailed Gov. Charlie Crist by 30 points. The national GOP quickly embraced Crist, but Rubio overtook him with substantial tea party support. Twice he set records for the most lucrative three-month fundraising periods for a Senate race in Florida, collecting $4.5 million and $5 million, respectively. Crist, meanwhile, turned to a bid as an independent.
Rubio lives in West Miami with his wife, Jeanette, and four children.
MARK KIRK, REPUBLICAN
The five-term congressman from Chicago’s northern suburbs ran as a centrist more interested in results than ideology. He promised to limit spending and taxes while following a moderate path on abortion, gun control and other social issues.
Kirk angered many conservative leaders with his votes in favor of “cap and trade” and economic stimulus bills. He later renounced his vote on the environmental bill and has opposed new stimulus measures.
Born in Champaign, Ill., in 1959, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1981, a master’s from the London School of Economics in 1982 and a law degree from Georgetown University in 1992.
He worked as a congressional staffer and as a State Department special assistant before being elected to the House in 2000.
In the Senate race, he has struggled to overcome the revelation that he has made false statements about his 21 years in the Navy Reserve. He claimed he received an award he never got, said he served in the Gulf War and Iraq War when he didn’t and claimed he came under fire on combat flights, a claim he stopped making and did not explain.
Kirk, 51, is divorced.
DAN COATS, REPUBLICAN
This new face is not quite as fresh as others. Coats served in the Senate from 1989 to 1999.
He was born in Jackson, Mich., and earned a law degree from Indiana University in 1971. He joined Rep. Dan Quayle’s staff in 1976 and won Quayle’s House seat when Quayle ran for the Senate in 1980. When Quayle was elected vice president in 1988, Coats was appointed to fill his Senate seat, and he developed a reputation as a social conservative.
He served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005 and worked as a Washington lobbyist before deciding to take another run at Senate, saying he didn’t like where the country was headed.
Supporters say Coats has integrity, experience and a conservative record well-suited for Indiana. Critics say he’s a rich Washington insider who has lived away from the Hoosier state for too long.
Coats, 67, and his wife, Marsha, have three children.
JERRY MORAN, REPUBLICAN
He tempers a conservative Republican voting record with a folksy style that keeps him from alienating moderates. An early voice for repeal of the health care law, he is likely to remain a reliable vote against President Barack Obama’s agenda.
Moran, 56, grew up in western Kansas and practiced law in Hays. He won a seat in the Kansas Senate by a narrow margin in 1988 and served until 1997.
Representing the 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas since 1997, Moran travels home on weekends and prides himself on not having moved his family to Washington from his hometown of Hays.
RAND PAUL, REPUBLICAN
The 47-year-old eye doctor tapped into tea party fervor with a fiercely antiestablishment message. He has strong family ties to politics — his father is Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a former presidential candidate and libertarian icon.
Quiet and intense, Rand Paul railed against government bailouts and deficit spending in promoting low taxes and limited government. He’s also personally frugal, according to friends who say he mows the lawn at his home in a gated community and shops the Internet for cheap golf shoes.
Paul was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Texas and settled in Bowling Green, a college town near his wife’s hometown, about 20 years ago. He runs his own ophthalmology practice.
Paul attended Baylor University but left early without a bachelor’s degree for medical school at Duke University. He helped create a certification group for ophthalmologists after objecting to a powerful medical group’s policy.
Paul and his wife, Kelley, have three sons. He has coached youth baseball, soccer and basketball, and his family attends a Presbyterian church, where his wife is a deacon.
ROY BLUNT, REPUBLICAN
He was born into a home with no running water or insulation on a southwest Missouri dairy farm. As a 23-year-old high school history teacher he made his political debut by being appointed Greene County clerk. In 1984 he was elected Missouri’s secretary of state.
After an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1992, Blunt left politics to became president of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar. He made a political comeback by winning election to Congress in 1996 and quickly rose through Republican leadership ranks to become the House whip.
He temporarily served as House majority leader after Tom Delay stepped down in 2006, but Blunt ultimately lost the majority leader’s election to Rep. John Boehner of Ohio.
Blunt, 66, and his second wife, Abigail Perlman, a lobbyist for Kraft Foods, live in Springfield. His oldest son, Matt Blunt, was Missouri’s governor from 2005-2009. His son Andy is a lobbyist and managed his senatorial campaign.
ROB PORTMAN, REPUBLICAN
Soft-spoken and meticulous, he is known for his deep knowledge of tax and finance issues and has taught college courses on the subject. The former congressman was also closely allied with both Bush administrations.
Born in Cincinnati in 1955, he graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan law school.
Under President George H.W. Bush, Portman’s roles ranged from White House staffer to legislative liaison to stand-in at political debate rehearsals. When George W. Bush entered the White House in 2000, Portman was named budget director and later U.S. trade representative.
He represented southwest Ohio in Congress for 12 years beginning in 1993. As a congressman, he championed bills that streamlined the federal tax code, increased IRS oversight, provided financial incentives to countries that protect their rainforests and allowed display of the Ten Commandments in public places.
He owns the historic Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio, the state’s oldest continuously operating business. An advocate for restoration, he wrote a book about the hotel’s history called “Wisdom’s Paradise.” He and his wife, Jane, have three children.
PAT TOOMEY, REPUBLICAN
The former investment banker and restaurateur ran for Congress in 1998 and won an open seat in his adopted hometown of Allentown. He limited himself to three terms and, after nearly knocking off Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2004 GOP primary, spent four years as the president of the Washington, D.C.-based free-market advocate, Club for Growth.
In Congress, he championed the cause of fiscal conservatives and continued that theme in his run for Senate, buoyed by voter dissatisfaction with the pace of economic recovery and President Barack Obama.
Toomey, 48, has opposed the key planks of Obama’s presidency, including the new federal health care law and the economic stimulus package. He sailed through the primary against a weak opponent. He won the party’s endorsement but also has had the backing of the tea party in the general election.
KELLY AYOTTE, REPUBLICAN
She resigned as attorney general to run for the Senate. After former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed her, she won the party primary by 1,667 votes over a conservative supported by local tea party activists.
A fiscal and social conservative, Ayotte, 42, opposes gay marriage and abortion. She pledges not to ask for special spending requests known as earmarks, something retiring GOP Sen. Judd Gregg believed was a legitimate way to direct money to worthy projects.
Ayotte also wants federal agencies to propose 20 percent cuts to their budgets to start a discussion about what funding is essential. She supports repealing the health care law and opposes economic stimulus spending. She says the private sector should handle health care reforms and creating jobs, not government.
She would not raise the retirement age for Social Security for those near retirement but would consider it for younger workers. She opposes reinstating the inheritance tax.
JOHN HOEVEN, REPUBLICAN
The nation’s longest-serving governor — he took office Dec. 15, 2000 — he is the only North Dakota governor to be elected to three four-year terms, winning his last two with more than 70 percent of the vote.
In his Senate race, Hoeven, 53, stuck to themes of budget discipline, job creation and opposition to tax increases. He avoided specifics about how he would trim the growth of federal spending.
A former Democrat, he has governed as a moderate Republican. He supported large state spending increases on public school teacher salaries and North Dakota’s university system as the state’s energy- and agriculture-dependent economy has prospered.
GOP conservatives have grumbled about state spending growth during Hoeven’s administration. However, he faced no tea party primary challenger, and a tea party candidate who contested Hoeven’s bid for the state Republican Party’s convention endorsement garnered only 21 percent of delegate votes.
MIKE LEE, REPUBLICAN
The tea party favorite has never held political office, but he dazzled Republicans in this highly conservative state with his ability to cite from memory articles and clauses from the Constitution. He rose to political prominence by pledging to be more faithful to the Constitution than his seven GOP challengers, which included sitting Sen. Bob Bennett.
Lee, a constitutional law attorney, left his job as former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s general counsel to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. He now works in the Salt Lake office of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Howrey LLP.
Lee isn’t the only legal scholar in his family. His father, Rex Lee, was a Brigham Young University law school dean and solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan. His brother Tom Lee was a BYU law professor and was sworn in as a Utah Supreme Court justice earlier this year.
Mike Lee, who also earned his law degree from BYU, tells stories about witnessing Supreme Court arguments as a child and discussing constitutional clauses over the dinner table while growing up.
JOE MANCHIN, DEMOCRAT
He has enjoyed a reputation as a popular centrist Democrat. He was secretary of state and a former multiterm state lawmaker when he ran for governor in 2004, his second run for the state’s highest office. Two years remain on his second term.
As a gubernatorial candidate he had the backing of both the state’s AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce. Those groups also endorsed his Senate bid.
Under Manchin, West Virginia successfully privatized its troubled workers’ compensation system and has gradually cut several consumer and business taxes. It also kept its state budget balanced without the tax hikes, layoffs or other painful steps seen elsewhere during the recession.
Manchin, 63, may be best known nationally for his handling of the coal mining disasters at Sago in 2006 and Upper Big Branch in April. Considered a champion of the state’s coal industry, he has been at odds with the Obama administration on that front.
RON JOHNSON, REPUBLICAN
A wealthy businessman without political experience, he calls himself a fresh “citizen legislator” who would restore fiscal restraint to Congress.
He runs a private plastics company in eastern Wisconsin with about 120 employees, a background that he argues gives him the real-world experience of creating jobs and balancing budgets.
Johnson, 55, remains something of a mystery. He offered only vague platitudes on the campaign trail, sticking to scripted talking points and avoiding specifics.
He said he wants to repeal health care reform but won’t say what should replace it. He criticizes government spending but won’t identify which programs he would cut. He says he knows how to create jobs but he won’t say how he’ll do it.
Instead, he said the keys to improving the economy are cutting reckless spending, extending the Bush-era tax cuts and creating a business-friendly environment to persuade employers it was safe to increase their payroll.
Johnson has a degree in accounting. He and his wife, Jane, have been married 33 years and have three children. His website lists his interests: fishing, hiking, camping, Packer and Badger games, recreation league softball and basketball, folk music and playing guitar.
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