WASHINGTON,. While dozens of newcomer Democrats won seats in Congress in Tuesday’s midterms, several Republicans also emerged on the national stage, forming a fresh battalion of conservatives pushing US President Donald Trump’s political agenda.
Despite the Republican Party’s mixed results in the election, true adherents to Trumpism claimed wins in various states at multiple levels, a sign that the president’s influence remains strong among his core voters.
“They really are tremendous people,” Trump said yesterday in the White House. “Many of them were not known. But they will be known.”
Here is a look at five newly-elected Republicans who could carry the torch for Trump.
Hawley: Rising Senate ‘star’
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s strategy was clear: Paint as sharp a contrast with incumbent US Senator Claire McCaskill as possible, and let Trump work his magic.
“I said this from the beginning that this was about defending our way of life,” Hawley said in his victory speech, embracing Trump’s apocalyptic message that Democrats were seeking to doom America.
He joined a lawsuit seeking to have Obamacare declared unconstitutional, became a champion of deregulation, and campaigned twice with Trump in the race’s final days.
Missouri conservatives rallied around the clean-cut Hawley, who voices approval of Trump policies including on the economy.
“We love Josh. He’s a star,” Trump told a Missouri crowd.
At just 38, Hawley will become the Senate’s youngest member.
DeSantis: Politics of division
Ron DeSantis was a conservative Tea Party congressman before Trump ran for office, and he quickly learned that to win the Florida governor’s mansion he would need to turn out Trump’s angry base.
He narrowly defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum, who aimed to become Florida’s first black governor, in part by clinging tightly to Trump, as he did by cutting a humorous campaign ad showing him teaching his infant child to “build the wall.”
He pushed a low-tax platform, warned of the financial costs of expanding health care, and warned that Gillum would make the state less safe.
DeSantis, 40, also fuelled racial animus by warning that Florida’s voters should not “monkey this up” by electing a leftist. Supporters of his campaign followed up with more racist dog whistles.
Trump rallied with DeSantis three days before the election.
Stauber: Midwestern affability
Pete Stauber is politically and socially conservative, without Trump’s aggressive and divisive rhetoric. That pragmatic if less spotlight-grabbing approach could help him in Washington, where he will serve in the Republican minority after flipping a Democrat-held congressional seat in northeastern Minnesota.
Stauber, 52, capitalised on Minnesota voters who appreciated Trump’s business experience and action on the economy, as well as his controversial tariffs on metal imports, in a district with considerable mining operations.
As a retired police officer, he told AFP that voters “understand my blue-collar, common-sense conservative background.”
Trump’s verdict? “Great guy… and ran a fantastic race.”
Crenshaw: Texas war hero
Retired US Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw, 34, won his Texas congressional race on a campaign for what he called “limited government, low taxes and individual liberty.”
Trump’s border wall? “Just build the damn thing,” he told The Weekly Standard.
They are surely Trump priorities. But Crenshaw, who wears an eye patch after losing his right eye in an explosion in Afghanistan, sees himself as a centrist conservative who can appeal to younger voters, something Trump often stumbles at.
Crenshaw was locked in a tight race until last weekend, when a late-night comic mocked him as “a hit man in a porno movie” who “lost his eye in war, or whatever.”
The backlash was swift, and breathed life into his campaign. His Tuesday victory now allows him to increase the number of veterans in Washington by one, and as he says, “find the things that we agree on and go forward with those.”
McSally: Tough-talking fighter pilot
Arizona’s Martha McSally, 52, already had a high profile in Congress as America’s first female fighter pilot to fly in combat.
When she announced her US Senate candidacy, she took on a new mission: Shift rightward and make herself palatable to Donald Trump, essentially squeezing out two extremists who likely would sink the party’s chances if either one snatched the nomination.
Instead, McSally did. And in the general election she championed Trump’s policies including on border security and immigration — and occasionally dropped some salty language.
She defeated Democratic fellow congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema to become the first woman to represent Arizona in the US Senate.
“That was a big race and she has done a terrific job,” Trump said yesterday. — AFP