Meet the 4 newest stars of the House and Senate

Every election brings new stars to Congress and this year is no different. Here are four new members to the House and Senate who will either be key forces in shaping policy or regular fixtures on the cable news networks — or, in many cases, both.

Tom Cotton

The new congressman from Arkansas’ Fourth Congressional District has a superstar biography. From small-town Arkansas, Cotton went to Harvard and then Harvard Law School. The 9/11 terrorist attacks propelled him to join the Army. When a recruiter suggested he would be perfect for the Judge Advocate Generals Corps, Cotton reportedly cut him off, “‘I don’t think you understand. I’m here to volunteer for the infantry.’”

Cotton served tours on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. He became something of an Internet sensation for a letter to the editor he wrote to the New York Times while in Iraq in 2006 that eviscerated the Grey Lady for revealing a secret U.S. government program targeting al-Qaida’s finances.

“You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here,” he wrote. “Next time I hear that familiar explosion — or next time I feel it — I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance.” (RELATED: Arkansas veteran in House race was soldier who upbraided NYT for exposing counterterrorism program)

Cotton has become the toast of conservative publications. Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol has already pegged the 35-year-old as a future presidential contender.

“I’ll let future plans work themselves out,” he told The Daily Caller at the Republican National Convention in August, when asked about Kristol’s prediction. “Everyone seems to have big plans for my life; they just don’t always tell me.”

Ted Cruz

The new senator from Texas, Cruz will join Florida’s Marco Rubio as the second Republican Hispanic member of the Senate. There are many similarities between the two. Both are staunch conservatives with tea party credentials and both are excellent speakers — Cruz was a debate champion at Princeton. And like Rubio, Cruz’s father also left Cuba seeking a better life. (RELATED: Leaders with Ginni Thomas: U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz)

Cruz was tremendously successful academically, even touring around Texas while in high school to deliver speeches on the meaning of the Constitution. After graduating from Princeton, he attended law school at Harvard, where he was a founding editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review. He went on to clerk for late Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and serve as solicitor general of Texas.

But he is more than just an egghead. “Cruz is to public speaking what Michael Phelps was to swimming,” the National Review once wrote.

In short, Ted Cruz is destined to be a force in the Senate, both in shaping policy and communicating the conservative cause.