Tuesday’s elections brought both a rout of Democrats and a new standard for just who can be a national Republican these days. That’s not good, but let’s have a quick look at the new House and Senate conservatives most likely to rise to (unintended) prominence in the next two years. It’s time for Meet Your New Craziest Republicans.
Glenn Grothman, WI-06: Any list has to start with new Wisconsin Representative Glenn Grothman. Grothman is a finely tuned gaffe machine, if by “gaffe” we mean “saying the things Republicans are not supposed to say out loud.” He is a fervent believer in stopping The Gay Agenda, which he believes exists in our nation’s classrooms, but it’s the full scope of Grothman’s bizarre statements that have led us to predict that he will quickly rise to challenge Texas Republican Louie Gohmert for the title of America’s Dumbest Congressman. Does he have the stuff? We’ll soon know.
Jody Hice, GA-10: Another beneficiary of a hard-right conservative district, Georgia’s Jody Hice can’t be considered a gaffe machine. He’s just plain mean. A tea party Republican right out of central casting, Hice is a preacher, a conservative radio host, a gun-toter, and the district’s replacement for Paul “Evolution and embryology and the big bang theory are lies from the pit of Hell” Broun. Hice’s most recent hit has been the assertion that Muslim-Americans are not protected by the First Amendment because Islam is not a true religion; he also is frothingly anti-gay and is for women entering politics only if it is “within the authority of her husband.” Look for Hice to be a loudmouth Steve King type; not dumb, but meaner than a bag of rattlesnakes and a whole lot louder.
Mark Walker, NC-06: An also-ran compared to the more reliably soon-to-be-infamous Grothman and Rice, Mark Walker will nonetheless make a solid addition to the members of Congress that you will shudder to think have actual power. His highlight reel is topped by the time he proposed “we go laser or blitz” Mexico in order to teach them a lesson about immigrants crossing our southern border. He’s yet another tea partier that sallied into Congress while Republicans were proudly proclaiming they had tamped down on all that nonsense this time around. He also says he’d vote to impeach Obama.
Honorable Mention: Mia Love, UT-04: A female black Republican, Love has been a party darling groomed for success. She’ll go to Congress this year to prove that she’s got what it takes to move on to even higher office. She sports the endorsement of ultra-right anti-abortion extremists, but her unimpressive win even amidst an otherwise-solid Republican wave may have given her GOP poster child status a bit of a hit. Like Bobby Jindal, she’s an ambitious state Republican who will either make a big splash in the party or look very silly trying.
Joni Ernst, IA-Sen: When it comes to the Senate, all connoisseurs of train wrecks in the making are expecting great things from the Sarah Palinesque Joni Ernst. A far-right conspiracy theorist who coasted through the election on reporter fluff pieces and stories of pig castration, Ernst will join—and perhaps top—the Senate contingent of Republican believers in all things conspiratorial and insane. Think Michele Bachmann, but in the Senate. Think yourcrazy grandpa and his forwarded chain letters, but in the Senate. Think that person who accosts you at lunch one day with their theories of how Agenda 21 will be allowing cows to vote and forcing humans into tent cities—but in the actual Senate. Think Ted Cruz, but—well, think Ted Cruz. Ernst’s campaign showed two and only two settings, either ducking the presslike a hunted submarine or engaging in word salads that rival the best Palinisms. We expect great things from her.
Honorable Mention: Tom Cotton, AR-Sen: He won’t be a Joni Ernst, primarily because Ernst has squirreled away too much crazy for anyone but Ted Cruz himself to challenge, but Tom Cotton will prove a reliable Craven Liar Republican in the tradition of our finest intentionally insincere leaders. Why the Craven Liar title, as opposed to challenging in either the Sweet Jesus this guy is dumb or the Mean Bastard categories? Because Cotton’s campaign showed alevel of straight-up bullshit and pandering that had previously been seen only in satire bits about what Republicans might think, as when he supposed that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels would be teaming up to attack us across our border, a conservative wetyerpants claim seemingly handcrafted in the belief that Tom Cotton supporters were among the dumbest people on the planet. Unfortunately for Arkansas Republicans, he had them pegged. Cotton was also the most notable user of ISIS-produced terrorism films in his own ads, a move both meant to invoke terror in Americans so they would vote his way and one that likely earned the gratitude of the terrorist group for boosting publicity of their snuff films as they had intended. Perhaps we’ll call him the ISIS senator, as it’s a good bet ISIS already does.
On the Republican crazy beat, those are the top faces to watch. They’ll all be appearing very, very often on the satire shows, and probably more than a few times on the Sunday shows (but I repeat myself). We’ll also have the usual Steve Kings and Louie Gohmerts and, always, Ted Cruz, but if you’re looking for the next national leader who will either make a total fool of his or herself, make a fool out of his or her whole state, or accidentally shoot someone in the face during a hunting trip, here are the names that should feature on your new bingo cards.