Meet the 4 newest stars of the House and Senate

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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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.

Elizabeth Warren

The golden girl of the Democratic Party, Warren beat out moderate Republican Scott Brown to earn a Massachusetts seat in the U.S. Senate. The Harvard Law School professor is beloved by the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party for her unabashed liberalism — Warren was the lead advocate for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.

President Obama’s infamous “you didn’t build that” speech was similar to a speech Warren gave on the campaign trail:

“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

The New York Times highlighted Warren’s out-of-state support from “Hollywood glitterati.” And much to the delight of her Hollywood friends, she will be a major force in Congress pushing the Democratic Party further to the left.

Alan Grayson — again

Grayson was voted out of office two years ago after just one term, but it looks like the acerbic congressman is coming back to retake his place as the most obnoxious man in Congress. Grayson, who will now represent a reconfigured Orlando-area district, (in)famously declared on the House floor  that the Republicans’ Health Care plan is for Americans to “die quickly if you get sick.”

Last week TheDC reported that Grayson held a Hollywood comedy club fundraiser that featured rape jokes. But the politically stupid move didn’t seem to hurt him in his quest to return to the House of Representatives. (RELATED: At Alan Grayson’s Hollywood’s fundraiser, rape jokes abound)

A favorite on MSNBC during his time in the House, Grayson will surely be a go-to guest for Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton until his electorate once again decides to give him the boot for embarrassing them.

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