25 Players to Watch in the 112th Congress

Republican House Members   Rep.

Republican House Members   Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio: Incoming House speaker. House rules give tremendous power to the majority, and the speaker, if he or she wishes, can centralize a great deal of power in his office. The question is how well Boehner can keep his troops—including potentially restive Tea Party freshmen—in line.   Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.: Incoming House majority leader. The highest-ranking House Republican “young gun” (the others are incoming Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.), Cantor will be a familiar face of the party as it takes up the message wars against the president.   Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.: Incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Will have enormous power to advance—or block—changes to the tax code.   Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas: Incoming House Republican Conference chair. Though he’s been a conservative warrior during his five terms in Congress, Hensarling big-footed Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., in the conference chair race as the “establishment” candidate. Considered influential behind the scenes.   Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.: Incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Will have the power to tie the Obama administration in knots with investigations.   Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio: Incoming chairman of the Republican Study Committee. A former wrestler who is poised to lead the group that presses conservative positions, even when the leadership is wary.   Rep. John Kline, R-Minn.: Incoming chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. Education is one of the few areas where bipartisan action in the next two years is possible, and Kline, a long-serving ex-Marine, will be the one to lead the charge if it happens.   Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.: Freshman class president. Will be part of weekly leadership meetings, representing the largest and most influential GOP freshman class in years.   Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.: The incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee. Only forty but already elected to his seventh term in Congress. He’s the GOP’s point man on the deficit and entitlements and a darling of conservative intellectuals.   Democratic House Members   Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: House Minority Leader. Whatever happens with the new Democratic minority, the former speaker will be at the forefront. Acting on behalf of a more liberal Democratic caucus, she may push the president to the left and the Senate to hold firm against GOP-driven rollbacks.   Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.: The Democrats’ chief deputy whip as well as vice chair of the influential Steering and Policy Committee and a skilled fundraiser. She’s considered close to both the White House and House liberals, and because she doesn’t have one of the top five leadership spots, she may have the freedom to broker and sell bipartisan compromises.   Democratic Senators Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.: Chairman of the Finance Committee. As head of the influential tax-writing panel, Baucus may find common ground with a fellow dealmaker, ranking Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah—unless Hatch is pulled to the right by a potential primary challenge by Rep. Jason Chaffetz.   Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.: Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will still be the Senate’s top Democrat, but he’s expanded the portfolio of Schumer, who could have succeeded Reid had he lost a brutal reelection bid this year. Schumer will now head a united messaging, policy and political operation—a role he’s well suited for, given his past experience heading the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and his legendary press-friendliness.   Republican Senators   Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.: Unofficial leader of Tea Party–aligned GOP senators. Has urged incoming Republican senators to stay true to conservative principles and not be “co-opted” by the system, which could throw a wrench into the delicate, process-oriented Senate.   Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: Incoming senator from Florida. As much a star for the GOP as Barack Obama was for the Democrats after winning a Senate seat six years ago. His national profile should give him added weight as a spokesman, and his appeal seems to bridge both the Tea Party and establishment wings of the GOP.   Congressional aides Neil Bradley: Deputy chief of staff for policy for incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Called by one leading lobbyist “truly the smartest staffer on the Hill.” At twenty-four, he became the youngest executive director of the conservative Republican Study Committee, a position that gave him deep insight into and connections to the conservative “majority makers.”   Barry Jackson: Chief of staff to incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Perfected his political chops as an aide to Boehner and in the George W. Bush White House and will be a key player driving the new GOP House majority.   David Krone: Newly installed chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The low-profile former cable executive is a close friend and financial supporter of Reid who moved over from a different position in his office. Reid will be pivotal in determining the fate of bills passed by House Republicans.   Maria Cino: Republican strategist, recently announced candidate for Republican National Committee chair and holder of a gold-plated Republican resume, including head of the 2008 GOP convention, political director for George W. Bush in 2000, RNC deputy chair, executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee and acting Secretary of Transportation under Bush 43.   Jennifer Larkin Lukawski: Principal at BGR Governmental Affairs. Top House lobbyist and political action committee director at the firm founded by Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, a possible presidential candidate. Previously she was director of House relations at the Heritage Foundation and executive director of the conservative House Republican Study Committee.   Matt Kibbe: President and CEO of FreedomWorks. Heads the group chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, which provided institutional support for the Tea Party movement. In addition to working with FreedomWorks and its predecessor for a dozen years, Kibbe served as chief of staff for Rep. Dan Miller, R-Fla., as director of federal budget policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and as senior economist for the Republican National Committee.   Steven Law: President and CEO of American Crossroads. The group and its spinoff Crossroads GPS were founded by prominent Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. It made a splash spending tens of millions of dollars to boost Republican candidates in the midterm elections, and Law, its operational head, told National Journal that the group plans to expand “substantially” beyond the $70 million it raised in just twenty-nine weeks in 2010. Law has served as general counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and as a top appointee in the Labor Department under George W. Bush.   Thomas Donohue: President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The chamber, always an influential group, should be even more so in the wake of the 2010 midterms, given the tens of millions of dollars it spent to elect Republicans.   Sal Russo: Founder of the California-based GOP consulting firm Russo, Marsh & Rogers. Chief strategist for the Tea Party Express, the deepest-pocketed of the Tea Party groups. Has attracted controversy among some Tea Party activists because a large share of the money raised for the group has reportedly gone to pay for services provided by Russo’s own consulting firm. But he’s an experienced GOP operative dating back to Ronald Reagan’s days as California governor, and is positioned to play a Tea Party role in Washington if he so chooses.   Ken Spain: Outgoing communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which saw spectacular success in 2010. Spain, who earned high marks, has been named vice president for public affairs at the Private Equity Growth Capital Council.

Share this article


Submit a comment

Required field are marked with “*”.