Americans have told pollsters all year how much they are sick of all-things-Washington, and it seems they may get just what they wanted Tuesday night: a Washington that is much less "Washington." Indeed, we are looking at possibly an incredibly high number of political neophytes headed this way, many of them successful in the world of business. Often times, that results in frustration at the slow pace of the legislative process. Sausage-making, after all, is not pretty.
Compared to 2006 and 2008, the numbers are huge. This year, we would see as many as 9 new members with absolutely no political experience whatsoever, and perhaps not surprising in this particular year, only four of them were Establishment picks. As many as 15 freshmen will be brand-spanking-new to Washington --- many of them carrying with them only a smattering of experience in politics on the local or state level.
In 2006, there were six newbie freshmen (not here from the House), but only Jim Webb of Virginia had not held elected office. Of course, Webb was more than a little bit familiar with the game, as he was Reagan's Secretary of the Navy and his Asst. Secy of Defense for Reserve Affairs before that, and he also put in four years as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs back in the late '70s. He'd been around the block, so to speak, when he won his seat in '06.
Amy Klobuchar was close to being a fresh-faced politician. A lobbyist and lawyer, Klobuchar had only held elected office, as Hennepin County Attorney, before heading to the nation's capital.
In 2008, of the eight incoming new faces to Washington to serve in the Senate, only comedian and radio personality Al Franken was something of a political innocent. Having mocked politicians in his career, one might call him somewhat experienced. He was certainly prepared for the rough and tumble atmosphere, if nothing else.
Against that backdrop, here's a quick snapshot of the nine rookies who could be heading our way --- though several are in true tossup races and one is down in the polls:
An ophthamologist who was not the choice of the Establishment, this Tea Party darling, of course, is no stranger to politics. He is following in the footsteps of his father, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. *NOTE: If the Dem, Jack Conway, wins in this race, he brings serious "law and order" credentials, as the state's attorney general, as well as some experience in state politics, but he'd be new to the Washington scene.
A New York native, this 51-year-old worked as a ranch hand in Wyoming after graduating from Princeton. With a law degree in hand, he became assistant U.S. attorney in Denver, then Weld County district attorney in 2005, before taking on the Establishment in this year's GOP primary.
A millionaire business owner, Johnson, 55, owns a plastics packaging company with more than 100 employees.
A lawyer, Lee clerked twice for Samuel Alito, including on the Supreme Court (so he has some idea of politics as sport).
This Nashua native, Villanova Law grad, 42-year old mother of two once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sherman Horton and was appointed twice as New Hampshire's state attorney general.
The millionaire former head of HP is the only woman to head a Fortune 20 company. She has battled breast cancer, so perhaps Washington won't be so hard, and her stint on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign certainly provided some familiarity with the world of politics.
43-year-old Miller is a decorated war veteran and Yale law grad who has served as a state magistrate and state district court judge. He owns a private law firm in Fairbanks.
A millionaire businessman who has run unsuccessfully for office several times, he and his family are in the limestone mining business.
**NOTE: Popular Gov. Joe Manchin (left), the Dem in this race, is ahead in the latest polling and could very well win. While he is more than familiar with Washington, he has never held national office before. Many political experts suspect he has even bigger ambitions beyond Congress, so he likely won't have a tough time getting up to speed.
Millionaire former CEO of WWE, which her husband owns.
**NOTE: McMahon had a late surge, but she has not held onto it. It appears the Dem, Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut's Attorney General, is headed to a victory. He is one of the few in the possible class of 2010 who well-steeped in politics.