Published on January 27th, 2017
The Republican members of Congress are at a party retreat this week in Philadelphia. On the schedule is a parade of speakers including the President, the Vice President, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and retired pro football quarterback Peyton Manning. The assembled Republicans are also discussing issues of national security and how to advance policy priorities like tax and health care reforms. There’s a lot to deal with, and the freshman members of the Republican Main Street Partnership have told me that it’s like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. But those first-term members are also really excited about what they can accomplish in the months ahead.
As we approach the end of the first month of the new Congress, I’m going to conclude my profiles of Main Street’s newest members with a look at Reps. Matt Gaetz and John Rutherford of Florida, and Rep. Roger Marshall of Kansas.
At age 34, Matt Gaetz is the youngest of Main Street’s incoming members. He represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District, which covers the state’s western Panhandle and includes the city of Pensacola, home to the oldest U.S. Naval Air Station in the nation and the base of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. Rep. Gaetz won election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2010. He served three terms, chaired the committees on Criminal Justice and Finance & Tax, and led the House’s efforts to cut taxes by $1 billion over two years. In 2016, he came in first in an open-seat primary to succeed retiring Rep. Jeff Miller and won election with nearly 70 percent of the vote. He now serves on the House Committees on Armed Services, the Budget, and the Judiciary.
Rep. John Rutherford is also from Florida, but represents the 4th District on the state’s east coast, covering much of the Jacksonville area. Rep. Rutherford is a graduate of Florida State University and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He joined the Jacksonville police force as a patrolman in 1974, and worked his way up the ranks to be elected Sherriff of Jacksonville, in which capacity he served from 2004 to 2015. (When asked in 2003 what voters would be surprised to know about him, he replied, “I’m still a surfer.”) Term-limited from running for reelection as Sherriff, he instead ran for Congress (to succeed retiring Rep. Ander Crenshaw) and won. He is a member of the House Committees on Homeland Security and Veterans’ Affairs. Rep. Rutherford had a health scare earlier this month when he suffered an acute digestive flare-up in the Capitol, but he has been released from the hospital and will soon be back at work.
Rep. Roger Marshall is an obstetrician representing Kansas’ 1st Congressional District, which covers 63 mainly rural counties in the north and west of the state. He made headlines last year by mounting a primary challenge against Rep. Tim Huelskamp, an ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus Republican who’d spent most of his six years in office battling against his own party’s leadership. Although Republican incumbents supposedly lose primary elections only when challenged from the right, Dr. Marshall defeated him by a comfortable 13-point margin and went on to win the general election in a landslide. He now serves on the House Committees on Agriculture, Small Business, and Science, Space & Technology.
Main Street’s newest members come from a variety of backgrounds, but they share our incumbent members’ commitment to getting things done. They’re going to have a great impact on the Republican Party and will do their part to pass constructive legislation that will benefit all Americans.