If there is a silver lining to be gleaned from a night of storm clouds for liberals, it’s this: they will no longer have to utter the words “Rep. Michele Bachmann.” Nor “Congressman Steve Stockman.” Nor a host of other lawmakers with fringe right-wing views on gay people, science, poverty, and other important issues.
However, with every election comes a host of new politicians looking to fill their shoes. Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of new Tea Party blood in Congress this year.
REP. TOM EMMER (R-MN) — Bachmann is leaving an outsized role to fill, but if anyone is up to the task, it’s the man succeeding her in Minnesota’s sixth congressional district. While running for governor in 2010, Emmer didn’t argue that the minimum wage was too low, but rather too high. He proposed slashing the minimum wage for waiters, a slightly more moderate version of his 2005 plan to eliminate the minimum wage for everyone. Emmer also promised to veto anti-bullying legislation, despite the fact that a number of gay teens had recently committed suicide in Minnesota. Finally, Emmer spearheaded a conservative push to “nullify” Obamacare, a unconstitutional tactic used that nearly triggered a civil war three decades before the actual war of secession.
REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK (R-VA) — As if the Koch Brothers didn’t have enough influence over American politics already, they now have one of their own former lobbyists in the halls of Congress. (Comstock has also lobbied for the military contractor Blackwater and the private prison giant GEO Group.) In the Virginia House of Delegates, Comstock led the push for a mandatory ultrasound law, which would have originally required women who wanted an abortion, even victims of rape or incest, to first undergo a transvaginal ultrasound. She was also one of the most stringent staff investigators during 1990s-era Republican-led inquiries into Bill Clinton.
REP. GLENN GROTHMAN (R-WI) — Grothman’s views are as prolific as they are extreme. He believes that women are paid less because “money is more important for men.” He thinks Martin Luther King Day shouldn’t be a holiday, nor should Kwanzaa because “almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa — just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans.” Grothman also doesn’t believe teachers should be allowed to mention homosexuality in the classroom, doesn’t believe workers should have a guaranteed weekend, and argued that voter ID might help Republicans win a close presidential election.
REP. ALEX MOONEY (R-WV) — A former Maryland state senator who also once ran for the New Hampshire House, Mooney has settled on West Virginia as his new political base. During his stint as state senator, Mooney garnered a virulently anti-gay reputation, warning that LGBT people were attempting to be legally recognized as minorities, according to TPM. He also warned that advocates of gay rights were trying to curb free speech. “If you actually speak against the homosexual lifestyle, maybe from the pulpit if you’re a pastor then you’re in trouble,” he said in 2008.
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO) — In 2010, Buck was one of a host of Tea Party Senate candidates, along with Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, who helped Republicans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Republicans didn’t make the same mistake this year, ushering in a deal for Buck to run in a conservative House district more suited to his extreme views. Those include the belief that being gay is a choice, just like being an alcoholic. He also declared in 2010 that voters should support him because, unlike his female opponent, “I do not wear high heels.” Finally, despite being a heavy military state with thousands of veterans, Buck once called for privatizing their health care.
REP. JODY HICE (R-GA) — If Hice had his druthers, the more than 100 women currently elected to Congress better have permission from their husbands to be there. “If the woman’s within the authority of her husband, I don’t see a problem,” he declared in 2004 when asked about the growing number of women in politics. Unsurprisingly, Hice’s radical views aren’t confined to gender equality. He doesn’t believe Muslims should be protected by the First Amendment because Islam is “not” a religion, but rather “a totalitarian way of life with a religious component.” He also believes homosexuality is a choice, states can (unconstitutionally) nullify federal laws like Obamacare, and the cause of the Civil War is still an open debate.
REP. STEVE SOUTHERLAND (R-FL) — Southerland was one of just two incumbent Republican congressmen to lose in the general election, and it’s not difficult to see why. Even in the Republican-leaning Florida panhandle, Southerland’s antics were too much. He earned notoriety for his tireless crusade against food stamps, in which he sought to cut billions from assistance for poor people. Southerland also grabbed headlines for hosting a men-only fundraiser for his campaign.
REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R-TX) — Stockman is leaving Congress following his unsuccessful primary bid against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). His decision to bring Ted Nugent, who once threatened President Obama’s life, to the 2013 State of the Union is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his outrageous comments and actions. Some of the craziest include a campaign bumper sticker that read “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted”, raffling off an AR-15 assault rifle shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting (during which time he also threatened to impeach Obama), and mocking transgendered people as “change gender” and “that.”
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN) — Bachmann, a perennial Tea Party favorite, chose not to run for re-election this year. She earned a highly-controversial reputation during her stint in Congress, leading an anti-Muslim witch hunt that even unfairly targeted a top State Department official, propagating the false notion that Obamacare includes “death panels,” running a counseling center with her husband that utilized “ex-gay therapy,” and signing a pledge to ban all pornography.
REP. JOHN BARROW (D-GA) — Barrow, the last white Democrat from the Deep South, relished playing a Joe Lieberman-esque role among House Democrats, frequently giving bipartisan cover for conservative causes. For example, he insinuated in a 2012 campaign ad that liberals were going to come and take people’s guns away. He also spearheaded an effort to prevent action that would curb the coal industry’s ability to emit greenhouse gasses without limits. Barrow was the most conservative Democrat in Congress, voting with Republican leaders on approximately half of all bills.
REP. PAUL BROUN (R-GA) — Broun departs Congress after losing Georgia’s crowded Republican Senate primary, though not without leaving quite the legacy. Less than a week after the 2008 election, Broun said that he was afraid that Obama would create a Marxist dictatorship. He also compared the IRS to al-Qaeda, wanted to defund the Voting Rights Act, NPR, the Department of Education, and the Department of Energy, and was one of a small handful of Republicans who refused to consider any version of the Violence Against Women Act. Broun also said he would only consider legislation that fits “Judeo-Christian Biblical principles,” called evolution and the Big Bang Theory “lies straight from the pit of hell,” and came out as a birther.
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R-GA) — Like Broun, Gingrey ran for, and lost, the Republican Senate nomination. Gingrey will be remembered for a number of controversies, including defending former Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) infamous “legitimate rape” comments, calling them “partly right,” dismissing pre-existing medical conditions as nothing more than “hang nails and fever blisters,” and denouncing the very concept of reaching out to minority voters as “worse than sad.”