Six rising stars elected Tuesday

November 7, 2012

Tuesday's Election may have produced little in the way of broad changes to Washington, with President Obama winning reelection, Democrats retaining control of the Senate and Republicans holding the House. But the vote did yield some new faces who are headed to the nation's capital in January, and could well become household names in the months and years to come. Here's a look at a few names we'll probably be hearing a lot more about: 


(Gretchen Ertl/Reuters)

Elizabeth Warren: Even before unseating Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), the Democrat's stock was soaring within her party — to the point that she was already stoking 2016 presidential chatter. A favorite of liberals who demonstrated a willingness to take on Wall Street head-on, Warren is well-positioned to fill a void on the left in the Senate, which was largely left without a standard-bearer after Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was dislodged in 2010. 

Ted Cruz: Cruz's Senate victory Tuesday was a forgone conclusion, but his upset of Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican primary made him a conservative rock star. Cruz's Cuban heritage and biography have drawn comparisons to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and the anti-tax Club For Growth are big fans. The question for Cruz is whether he wants to set up shop on the right of the Senate, or would he prefer to be more of a consensus-builder. 

Tammy Baldwin: Baldwin made history Tuesday when she defeated well-known former Republican governor Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin: She'll become the first openly gay senator when she takes office next year. She is also part of a new class that will be partly responsible for filling the upper chamber with more women than at any point in history

Tammy Duckworth: The Iraq War veteran who lost both legs in combat unseated outspoken Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) on Tuesday, and was already well on her way to becoming a household name in Washington. Obama selected Duckworth to be assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2009. She also gave a well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. 

Tom Cotton: The Republican who will replace retiring Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) is a Harvard Law School graduate and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who has the Club for Growth in his corner. And he's only 35 years old. Here is someone Republican strategists believe has a bright future ahead of him. 

Angus King: King may ultimately decide to caucus with the Democrats (though he has not said so publicly), but even if he does, Senate Republicans will still probably court the Maine independent for crossover votes on legislation he might be tempted to buck his party over, so long as he wants to look after his moderate profile. Having friends in both parties can make you a popular guy in a hurry. 

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · November 7, 2012