House GOP’s possible newcomers include outsiders, extremists

Oct 31, 2022, 9:18 PM | Updated: Nov 1, 2022, 10:15 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — At least three Republicans running for the U.S. House attended the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021, and made their way toward the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection to stop Joe Biden’s election.

Countless other House Republican candidates are skeptics and deniers of the 2020 election lost by Donald Trump.

There are veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, small-business owners and the most geographically, racially and culturally diverse group of Republicans seeking House seats in the modern era — many of whom, like Trump in 2016, are political newcomers who have never held elected office.

All told, the House GOP’s Class of 2022 midterm candidates includes a new generation of political outsiders, populists and some extremists who could bring an intensity to Capitol Hill. They would be an untested and potentially unruly majority if Republicans win the House in the Nov. 8 election.

“Trump inspires all of this,” said John Feehery, a Republican strategist who was the long-serving spokesperson for former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

“There’s not a lot of shrinking violets,” Feehery said about the House Republican candidates. “Not a lot of people trying to be moderates. They’re warriors for their beliefs.”

Republicans are increasingly confident they will win control of the House, confronting Democrats on a widening map. The party in the White House traditionally suffers setbacks in the president’s midterm, and Democrats are weighed down by Biden’s lagging approval ratings and voter unease over inflation’s grip on the economy.

In many ways, Republicans are reassembling the Trump coalition with a well-funded but unusual alliance of candidates reflecting his supporters: charismatic Trump-styled media stars, “America First” military veterans, women, minorities and what’s left of the GOP’s traditional conservatives.

“This is going to be the most diverse class of Republicans — ever — in every sense of the word,” said Carlos Curbelo, a Republican former congressman from Florida. “What it means for governing is a big question mark.”

To be sure, some of the House Republican candidates are familiar with elected office or more moderate conservatives who have come up through the ranks of public service — like the former mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, Allan Fung, the son of immigrants who is working to flip a seat opened by a Democratic retirement.

But the Republican class is likely to be defined by the Trump-styled newcomers.

Retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden traveled to Washington for Jan. 6 — though he insists he didn’t join the mob attack on the Capitol — and is considered a rising star poised to defeat Brad Pfaff for an open Wisconsin seat long held by Democrats.

Florida’s Cory Mills caught attention with a provocative campaign ad in which the former combat veteran, who was also in special operations and went on to be a Trump adviser at the Pentagon, boasts about his company’s riot gear that was used on Black Lives Matter protesters and various liberal groups.

Karoline Leavitt was not her party’s first choice to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in New Hampshire, but Republican voters made the former Trump White House press aide, who questioned the 2020 election results, their nominee.

“She’s an election denier who believes the last election was stolen from Donald Trump,” Pappas said during their recent debate.

Leavitt, who recently said during a WMUR event that Biden is, in fact, “the legitimate president,” retorted that Pappas voted with Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “100% of the time.”

Unlike the Republican tea party class of 2010 that came to Congress to slash federal budgets or the 2018 Democrats who swept to power on the promise of good governance, the 2022 candidates appear less unified around a common policy agenda.

Instead, what many of the Republican recruits do share is Trump’s rejection of the establishment and civic norms, an approach much like that of Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, that is transforming the party.

Across the country, the GOP candidates reflect Trump’s lasting influence and willingness to bring the far-right into the fold — as seen in Washington state after Joe Kent, a former Green Beret and CIA officer with a harrowing life story, advanced to the November general election over Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 attack.

“Kevin McCarthy and MAGA Republicans have worked overtime to nominate extremist candidates across the country,” said CJ Warnke, the communications director at House Majority PAC, an outside group aligned with Pelosi. “We look forward to voters rejecting their out-of-touch policies at the ballot box in November.”

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who is poised to become House speaker if Republicans gain control, has been instrumental in recruiting the new class that could lift him to power.

Learning from the past elections, McCarthy reached deeper for candidates that better reflect the diversity of America, a turnaround from the 2018 election that left about a dozen Republican women and no Black Republicans in the House.

Among Republican incumbents and other candidates, there are 28 Black nominees, 33 Hispanics, 13 Asian Americans and three Native Americans, according to the National Republican Campaign Committee, the party’s House campaign arm.

McCarthy has maintained a close if sometimes rocky relationship with the former president. In a speech this summer in South Carolina, he championed his far-flung recruits, many of whom have been endorsed by Trump. Since August, McCarthy has visited 34 states in support of Republican candidates and members.

“There’s not one place we are not going to play,” he vowed.

Not all those Republicans are party favorites. In fact, leaders tried to keep some of the more extreme Republican candidates off the ballot.

More than $11 million was spent during the primary campaigns to prop up favored GOP candidates in Virginia, Texas, California and other states by the Conservative Leadership Fund, the outside group aligned with McCarthy.

The leadership fund achieved its preferred outcome in most of those races, though there were setbacks. In North Carolina, Trump-styled Sandy Smith — she tweeted on Jan. 6, “In DC fighting for Trump! Just marched from the Monument to the Capitol! — trounced the party favorite.

McCarthy campaigned early with JR Majewski, another Republican nominee who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The party has stuck with the Ohio candidate after The Associated Press reported that he misrepresented his military record.

During the primaries, Democrats promoted some of the more far-right candidates, helping elevate Trump-backed John Gibbs in Michigan, in a controversial counteroffensive strategy designed to push centrist and independent voters away from Republicans.

But Republicans are digging deep into Democratic strongholds of New England, Florida and notably South Texas, where three Latina candidates with tough border control positions reflect a dramatic re-sorting of traditional party allegiances, sounding alarms among Democrats.

“The moment reflects where the party is right now — Republicans are becoming a more broadly tented party that is making inroads in all types of communities,” said CLF spokesperson Calvin Moore.

“It’s a whole cadre of new voices putting forward their vision of what it means to put the country back on track.”

But recruiting and electing candidates and governing the country are different skill sets.

If Republicans win the House, “they’re going to have to teach these guys the value of regular order and the value of working together as a team,” Feehery said. “And that’s not going to come naturally.”


Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow the AP’s election coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

1 day ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

1 day ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

5 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

6 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

13 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

House GOP’s possible newcomers include outsiders, extremists