Can you remember those heady days in November 2010 after the midterm elections? The GOP had won a majority in the US House, and changed the US Senate from the 2008 result of 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans to a more manageable 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans. The new freshmen congressmen did not expect a hero’s welcome from the Democrats or the national media when they showed up in January 2011, but they were not prepared for the fear and disdain from their own colleagues. They thought they would be welcomed instead of getting the bum’s rush. Michele Bachmann and Jim DeMint did welcome them, and just about no one else.
I remember the 2011 Republican presidential primary debate in South Carolina. Cain noted that he is proud of his lack of public office and political experience, and asked, (since America had consistently elected a politician to the nation’s highest office), “How’s that working for you?” The Frank Luntz focus group was very impressed with Herman Cain, and the fear and disdain by the Republican establishment grew larger. Anyone who has a lack of elected public office experience needed to be put down in their opinion.
I believe the GOP has blown an opportunity that only happens about once every 60 years. Several individuals, who had had successful careers before entering politics, gave up those careers to become citizen legislators. They did not do it because it was an upgrade from a previously held political office, and they did not do it for the money. They stepped out of their comfortable careers because they had a sense of duty and honor to the nation, and they could remain silent no longer. Below are the pictures and bios of several of these men and women who had never before been elected to public office. You might be disappointed with some of these people who “failed” to change Washington, but I don’t share your disappointment – because I know that it is going to take more than one election cycle to get Washington moving in the right direction.
Cross-posted at Unified Patriots
In 1979, Ron Johnson moved to Wisconsin with his wife, and both started working for PACUR, a custom sheet extruder company, with his wife’s brother, Patrick Curler, for whom the company is named. For nearly one year, Johnson worked as the accountant and as a machine operator, trading 12-hour shifts with his brother-in-law. The company later expanded into the area of medical device packaging which involved hiring salespeople and exporting products to other countries. Johnson managed the sales as well as the financial aspects of the business, and ultimately purchased the company outright in 1995.
Reid Ribble owned and operated one of the most successful roof construction and consulting companies in the United States. Volunteering his time for over two decades, Reid is a member of National Roofing Contractors Association, the Wisconsin Roofing Contractors Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fox Valley Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Home Builders as well as the Brown County and Outagamie County Home Builders Associations. Reid is actively involved in the local community and industry. In 2005, members of the National Roofing Contractors Association elected him to be president. Currently, he is serving as President of the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress, the roofing industry’s national foundation.
In 1996 Bobby Schilling and his wife, Christie, opened Saint Giuseppe’s Heavenly Pizza in Moline. “I learned the pizza business from my little brother,” he says. Married 24 years and the father of ten Schilling is a staunchly pro-life Catholic who was motivated to run immediately following Barack Obama’s presidential election in November 2008. By the size of his family, it seems clear that Christie has been pretty busy at home and left most of the pizza business to Bobby and the kids as they became old enough to help out.
Bill Flores graduated from Texas A&M in 1972, and went to work for the KPMG accounting firm. Over three decades, Flores built a career as a financial manager for several large corporations, eventually settling in the oil-and-gas industry in Houston. He was the president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Exploration until late 2009, when he left the job to run for Congress.
Constitutional law professional
Mike Lee acquired his love for the Constitution early on while discussing everything from the Due Process Clause to the Second Amendment around the dinner table. Mike’s father, Rex Lee, served as Solicitor General under President Ronald Reagan and later as President of Brigham Young University. Mike attended most of his father’s arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, giving him a unique understanding of the government from an early age. As an attorney, he has acquired a more complete, practical understanding of why the Constitution is essential to the protection of life, liberty, and property.
After graduating from law school in 1997, he served as a law clerk to Judge Dee Benson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. He then clerked for Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., who was serving at that time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court in Newark, New Jersey. After his second clerkship, he joined the Washington, D.C. office of Sidley & Austin, where he specialized in appellate and Supreme Court litigation. Several years later, Mike returned to Utah after being invited to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Salt Lake City, preparing briefs and arguing cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He served as Governor Huntsman’s General Counsel from January 2005 until June 2006, when he returned to Washington for a one-year clerkship with Justice Alito at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mike returned to Utah (and to private practice) in the summer of 2007, joining the Salt Lake office of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Howrey LLP. Mike has earned a reputation as an outstanding lawyer based on his sound judgment, writing and courtroom advocacy skills, and thorough understanding of the Constitution.
Stephen Fincher is a managing partner in Fincher Farms, a West Tennessee based business farming cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat. Stephen has been a farmer in the family business his entire life, and lives in the Frog Jump community of Crockett County beside his father and brother.
In 2004, when it was time to retire from more than twenty years of service in the US Army, Lieutenant Colonel Allen West brought his wife and two young daughters to Broward County, Florida, where he taught high school for one year. He then returned to Afghanistan as an advisor to the Afghan army, an assignment he finished in November 2007. In his Army career, Col. West has been honored many times, including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals (one with Valor), and a Valorous Unit Award. He received his valor award as a Captain in Desert Shield/Storm, was the US Army ROTC Instructor of the Year in 1993, and was a Distinguished Honor Graduate III Corps Assault School. He proudly wears the Army Master parachutist badge, Air Assault badge, Navy/Marine Corps parachutist insignia, Italian parachutist wings, and German proficiency badge (Bronze award).
Rep. Chip Cravaack is a 24 year Navy veteran, and he is the third generation of his family to serve in the United States military. His experience as a Navy helicopter pilot and Northwest Airlines pilot gave him the opportunity to experience and live in multiple areas of the United States, as well as travel to many foreign countries.
During his Navy career, then Captain Cravaack was honored with several awards and citations, including a Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, two Navy Achievement Medals, and a Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. Captain Cravaack proudly wears Naval Aviator Wings, Navy/Marine Corps Parachutist Wings, and Air Assault Badge as well as being a designated Navy Master Training Specialist.
In 2003, Adam Kinzinger joined the United States Air Force. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in November 2003 and later awarded his pilot wings. Captain Kinzinger has served in the Air Force Special Ops, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, and Air National Guard.
Captain Kinzinger has been recognized for his efforts both in an out of uniform. In 2007, he received the United States Air Force Airman’s Medal for saving the life of a young woman who was violently attacked. Despite the likelihood that he too would be stabbed, Adam wrestled the knife away from the attacker and pinned him to the ground until the police arrived. He was also awarded the National Guard’s Valley Forge Cross for Heroism and was selected as the Southeastern Wisconsin American Red Cross Hero of the Year.
Over the course of his 24 year Army career Chris Gibson rose to the rank of Colonel and deployed 7 times; including 4 combat tours to Iraq, and separate deployments to Kosovo, the Southwestern US for a counter-drug operation, and most recently (just prior to his retirement) to Haiti where he commanded the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team during the opening month of that humanitarian relief operation.
Among his military decorations are 2 Legions of Merit, 4 Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star, the Master Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab. For their actions in Mosul in support of the first national election in the new Iraq, his Battalion Task Force earned the Valorous Unit Award. For their actions in Tal Afar during the 2nd and 3rd national elections in Iraq his Battalion and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were recognized for excellence by President George W. Bush and earned a 2nd Valorous Unit Award.
Tim Griffin is currently serving in his 16th year as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, holds the rank of major, and is assigned to the Southeast Medical Area Readiness Support Group as the Command Judge Advocate.
In September 2005, Tim was mobilized to active duty to serve as an Army prosecutor at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). One of his cases, U.S. v. Mikel, drew national interest after Private Nicholas Mikel attempted to murder his platoon sergeant and fired upon his unit’s early morning formation. Mikel pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
In May 2006, Tim was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and sent to serve in Iraq. From May through August 2006, he served as an Army JAG in Mosul alongside the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), for which he was awarded the Combat Action Badge.
Sports and Entertainment professionals
Jon Runyan, former University of Michigan standout, has one Pro Bowl appearance on his resume. He is a strong blocker in the running game and plays with a nasty disposition, and his pass protection skills are dramatically better than they were early in his career.
Runyan has not missed a game since signing a six-year, $30.5 million contract with Philadelphia in 2000. In fact, Runyan has not missed a game since his second season in the league, after playing in 10 games as a rookie in 1996.
A fourth-round draft choice of the Houston Oilers in 1996, he played four seasons with the franchise before joining the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent in 2000, signing what was then one of the biggest contracts in league history for an offensive lineman.
As a lumberjack performer, Sean Duffy traveled all over the state and country performing in lumberjack sport competitions and exhibitions. At the age of 18, Sean won his first World Lumberjack Championship in the 60-foot speed climb. He went on to earn two more World Champion titles in this category. In 2004, Sean was named the Honorary Athlete of the Wisconsin Badger Games, a popular state wide multi-discipline amateur competition modeled after the Olympics.
His diverse career includes working as a radio disc jockey in high school and college, seven years of practicing law at the Kleberg Law Firm in Corpus Christi and founding Farenthold Consulting LLC, a computer consulting and web design firm. Blake was also the co-host for Lago in the Morning, a top rated conservative talk radio program.
Blake is from a well-known political family. His grandmother, Annie Blake Morgan, was married to Hayden Head Sr., a longtime South Texas political power broker instrumental in the election of Republican U.S. Senator John Tower.