Potential Republican stars that you have not heard of

Pat McMahon Contributor
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With the 2010 midterm elections behind us, the focus has turned to the new class of Republican leaders that were swept into office. Several have already been labeled as future stars of the party. Among them are Senator-elect Marco Rubio of Florida, Congresswoman-elect Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Governor-elect Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Senator-elect Rob Portman of Ohio, and Governor-elect Brian Sandoval of Nevada. These names have been floated as potential presidential and vice presidential candidates in the coming years. Here is a look at several other newly elected officeholders who have the potential be stars for the GOP:

Governor-elect Susana Martinez of New Mexico

The former prosecutor for Dona Ana County is the first Hispanic woman to be elected governor of a state. She defeated her rival, Democrat Diane Denish, by eight points. Martinez, 51, campaigned on creating jobs, cutting spending, fighting crime, and securing the border from illegal immigrants. Several Democrats have said not paying attention to her political potential could be “dangerous” for the party.

Congressman-elect Allen West of Florida

The retired Army lieutenant colonel won his seat in the Sunshine State’s 22nd district, becoming the first African-American Republican elected from Florida since Reconstruction. After running and losing to Democratic Rep. Ron Klein by four points in 2008, West became a darling of the Tea Party movement and raised millions of dollars for his 2010 rematch with Klein. West, 49, won the race by eight points and says he intends to join the Congressional Black Caucus in order to challenge the “monolithic voice” of the organization.

Senator-elect Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire

Ayotte clobbered her Democratic opponent, Paul Hodes, by twenty three points to keep this crucial seat in Republican hands. The former New Hampshire attorney general ran on her pledge to cut government spending, to repeal health care reform, and to ban congressional earmarks. With New Hampshire as the site for the first presidential primary (Iowa holds the first primary contest, but it is a caucus), Ayotte could have a key role in shaping which Republican could come out on top. Senator-elect Ayotte, 42, has the distinction of being the only new woman elected to the Senate in this cycle.

Governor-elect Scott Walker of Wisconsin

Wisconsin, among the most crucial swing states in presidential races, has elected a fresh face as governor. Scott Walker, 43, is poised to become a Republican star in this purple state after winning the governor’s mansion by five percentage points. He campaigned on cutting taxes, creating jobs, and cutting state employee wages. Walker previously served as the Milwaukee County Executive.

Congresswoman-elect Jaime Herrera of Washington

Jaime Herrera, who won a key swing district in Washington state, looks to have a bright future in the Republican Party. Herrera, 32, won the open congressional seat by six points in a blue state. Serving since 2007 as a state legislator, the congresswoman-elect has pledged to tackle government spending as her top priority. Herrera previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide for Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Governor-elect Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania

Tom Corbett, the current attorney general of Pennsylvania, defeated Democrat Daniel Onorato by a nine point margin. Corbett, 61, plans to model his approach to governing the Keystone State after New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie. The main issues that the governor-elect plans to tackle include taxes, spending, and jobs. Corbett has also filed legal challenges to the health care reform bill, along with other state attorneys general.